People often ask me to make my recipe. So here’s the fact: I watched people put something in the basket in the supermarket and use something unusual as an excuse to start talking. When I use innocent social occasions, such as waiting in line at the barbershop, I ask people whether they are comforting themselves, celebrating, or not having time. I went into stores in China, Sri Lanka and Italy, rushed to the shelves and got things to the owner, asking them if they could use dried seaweed slices, slender onion flowers or fat ca berries.
All of this information is like the Tetris piled up, providing a picture of their lives. Where they come from and what they care about. This is part, or mainly why I write food. And, when I was on my kitchen table, it stimulated me into the stove.
Chatting with a Ghanaian woman in a fruit and vegetable shop in Africa, today’s recipes have grown by leaps and bounds. We are all looking at the same bag of melons, which Indians use to save by adding protein and thickening dishes. She said Ghanaians and Nigerians use the same method to make a leafy green vegetable stew with ginger, garlic and Scottish hats. From a quick conversation and a rough recipe, I plunged into someone else’s life again and fell in love with it. A little reminder to talk to strangers, I think.
Chickpea, chard and sunflower seed egusi with polenta dumplings
This stew is traditionally made from spinach and ground melon seeds, but here I use seasonal beets and sunflower seeds that are more readily available. Be sure to buy polenta for quick cooking of dumplings. You need a food processor. Provide four.
150 grams of sunflower seeds
200 grams fast cooking polenta
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
2 brown onions, peeled, finely cut
3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
3 cm ginger, peeled, grated
1 Scotch pepper, chopped, chopped
Half teaspoon of chilli paprika
500 grams of beets, leaves and stems separated – leaves roughly chopped, stems cut into 2 cm pieces
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
400 grams of canned chickpeas, drain
Place an oven tray in an oven tray with greaseproof paper and place a pan containing 800 ml of water in a rolling pan. Add three teaspoons of salt, pour in the polenta, and keep stirring until the polenta shows a firm mashed potatoes or dough – about 8 minutes. Cool for about five minutes, then take a spoon and dip in very cold water and remove the portion of the dumpling size of the mixture of polenta – you should eventually have about 15 dumplings. Put these on the tray, then leave.
Heat oil with a medium heat in a large frying pan. Once the onion, garlic, ginger, peppers and a teaspoon of salt are fried, stir occasionally for 15-20 minutes until the onion has completely softened and browned. Add paprika, beet stalks and ketchup, cook for another two minutes, then stir chickpeas and cook for a minute. Add 500ml hot water pot and make a steady simmer.
Once the mixture is stirring, stir in sunflower seed sauce. At this stage the sauce will appear grainy, looks scrambled eggs, but do not panic: This is exactly what you want.
Spread the beet leaves on the sauce and sprinkle with half a teaspoon of salt – do not stir the leaves. Cover the pot and leave the beet steamed for 5 minutes.
Remove the lid, stir once or twice, add cooked leaves, and season. Simply add the dumplings to the pot, make it warm, then simmer on the edge plate with dumplings.