When Life Gives You Radishes

I’m used to buying radishes with wilted, sickly, and unappetizing tops; I lop them off and discard them. But what does one do when one buys bunches of radishes who greens are healthy, vital, and flush with life? There was a time when I would have taken the opportunity to make radish top soup. But that was an era during which I would have been pleased to make a dish that included heavy cream and potatoes. No more. So, what does one do with healthy radish greens after that era has passed? If one is me, and I am, one makes mulor shaak, a Bengali dish I found when consulting with Father Google about my conundrum. According to Father Google’s assistant—a blog called Aahar (a Hindi word meaning, as I understand it, food)—one happy use is to make mulor shaak, which I did. The photo here is the finished product, ready to be eaten. According to Aahar, mulor shaak is a dish served as a first course in Bengali households. I looked around and thought to myself, I can imagine this being a Bengali household, then went to work.

There’s not much to it, really. Wash and chop the radish greens, dice a green chile (I used a serrano pepper), heat some oil in a pan, and “temper” the oil with a red chile (I used a dried chile arbol) and some kalo jeera (black cumin). Then dump in the chopped greens, a pinch of tumeric powder, and the serrano pepper. While the mixture is cooking (on medium heat), toast three-quarters of a tablespoon of sliced almonds and then add them to the greens. Stir until you’re satisfied the dish is sufficiently cooked to be chewable; eat it. I calculated the calorie count of the dish as something in the neighborhood of 50-60, which translates into 25-30 per serving; pretty monstrous lunch, huh? I expect to munch on a little something extra after awhile, though, so my lunch calorie count probably will near two hundred calories by the time all is said and done.

My wife was not ecstatic about the meal, but she tolerates my food fetishes rather well, so she ate it and said it was interesting, but not something she’d actively plan to make in the future. I allowed as how I would, if there were healthy radish greens on hand. She countered by suggesting we might want to include the radish greens in addition to (or maybe even in place of) spinach in various Indian dishes we make on occasion. I was satisfied with that. When life gives you radishes, you make…do.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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