September 15, 2022
Situated between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, the tiny, lush state of Kerala is where vines of peppercorn clusters have been growing in the wild for thousands of years. Even today — along with coconuts, cashews and coffee — spices are one of the biggest sources of trade and income for the local economy.
Rice noodles, also called string hoppers, are sometimes sold in the streets tossed with vegetables, coconut and spices. This salad-like chilled noodle dish is inspired by the flavors of Kerala and, true to my cooking, comes with copious amounts of freshly minced ginger. It can also be served warm.
1 (14-ounce) package of rice noodles or vermicelli
6 large carrots, grated
1/3 cup minced ginger
2 serrano peppers, minced (optional)
Juice from 3 limes
2 cups grated fresh coconut
½ cup toasted chopped cashews
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 bunch cilantro, minced
1 bunch basil, minced, leaving some for garnish
¼ cup sesame oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
Leaves from 3 to 4 stalks of kari (curry) leaves
Generous pinch of asafetida
Makes 6 servings
Boil the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and chill.
In a large mixing bowl, toss the noodles with carrots, ginger, serrano, lime juice, coconut (saving some for garnish), cashews, black pepper, salt and herbs.
In a small frying pan, heat the sesame oil. When the oil is hot, quickly pop the mustard seeds, fry the kari leaves and asafetida. Immediately fold in with the noodle mixture. Taste for flavor and balance. Chill for 3 to 4 hours before serving. Garnish with coconut and herbs.
If serving the next day, do not add the herbs until the very end. They may discolor over a day or two.
Almost all vegetables can be added to this salad — substitute the carrots with shaved Brussels sprouts, parsnips, spinach or kale.
If you do not have asafetida, add a teaspoon of minced garlic to the oil instead and add sliced chives or green onions to the salad.
December 02, 2022