It may be a good thing that Sunny and I live further apart.
I won’t get into as much trouble with my grocery shopping.
You see, we needed to get more chickpea flour and tamarind. No better excuse to head out to Sunny’s one last time. I scope out my weekly meals based on the produce that is on sale. I knew oyster mushrooms were on sale, so I planned to make mushroom dal. Green beans were also on sale, so I had planned a meal for that, too. I still meander through the produce section to see what else is available, though.. and that’s when I get into trouble.
Unadvertised specials: Two bunches of broccoli for $1. Huge collards for 79c/bunch. Hard-to-find green mangoes were spotted. So. Hard. To. Resist. I am weak against fresh, cheap veggies. I succumbed. I contained myself, though, when I saw a huge amount of mixed baby greens on sale for $3 (it must have been a bag of 20 lbs, I kid you not), though. My weekend menu gets turned upside down. Now I am not entirely sure what I want to make.
In the end, I made the sushi roll edamame collard wraps earlier in the week with the collard greens. By the end of the week, I wanted to try something cooked instead. Continuing on my current Indian kick, I turned to 660 Curries and I was shocked to find a recipe using collards: Roulade of Collard Leaves with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce! Collard leaves are used to envelope a savoury chickpea flour batter, drizzled with a tomato-mustard sauce. The authentic Indian version uses taro leaves but Iyer insists that collards are a nice, if somewhat chewier substitute. My curiosity was piqued instantly.
My Indian repertoire consists mainly of bean-based curries, so it was nice to try something completely different. This is an appetizer, but it is hearty enough to be a main meal if you eat enough. Here, you make a delectably savoury filling based on chickpea flour spiced with coriander, cumin, chile flakes, ginger and tamarind. Please stop to taste the filling, it is very good. Just don’t eat too much of it because it is then thinly spread overtop collard leaves. With around one tablespoon of batter per leaf, I had my doubts whether this would all stick together in the end. You stack 4 collard leaves on top of each other and tightly roll it together and secure it with a toothpick (or string). Next, your collard roll is steamed until tender and the chickpea batter is cooked. After a bit of cooling, you slice them, then pan-fry them until brown with mustard and cumin seeds and then briefly stew them with some tomato and cilantro to create a quasi-sauce. Dust with some coconut and you have some seriously flavourful collard bites. The collards are meltingly tender, the chickpea filling so tasty and the nibbles are eerily creamy. The extra flavour from the tempered spices make this sing. My tomato-mustard sauce never really delivered, as I may not have had a big enough tomato, but the little smattering of tomato-cilantro was nice in moderation.
I know it seems so complex, but it is fairly simple to make. I’d bust this out for my next Indian fest, though, as it is best when fresh and very impressive, while still pretty easy to make. Iyer says these can be prepared in advance and frozen, which would be a delicious treat to have stored for a rainy day.
Indian Chickpea and Collard Roulade with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce
Adapted from 660 Curries
8 large collard leaves (cabbage could work, too)
1 cup chickpea flour
2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp coconut sugar or sweetener of choice
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 tomato, finely chopped (2/3 cup)
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
8 curry leaves
1 tbsp shredded coconut
1. Rinse your collard leaves and destem. Set aside to dry.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chickpea flour, coriander, cumin, coconut sugar, chile flakes, turmeric and ginger. Gradually add 1/4 cup warm water, a few tablespoons at a time, stirring well to combine. Add water until you create a thick paste which is the consistency of thick peanut butter. Stir in the tamarind paste.
3. Place the largest collard leaf on a work surface and place 1-2 tablespoon of the chickpea batter on it. Using a spoon, spread the mixture to cover the entire leaf. You may be tempted to add more batter, but remember that you have to add it to every leaf. Spread it as thinly as possible. Place a second collard leave, in the opposite direction (the base at the opposite end), and spread another tablespoon of batter overtop the leaf. Continue spreading with another 2 leaves. beginning at the long edge of the leaf, thinly roll the collard leaves together. Secure with toothpicks or string. Prepare a second identical roll with the remaining 4 collard leaves. (Soma makes hers with cabbage and has some good step-by-step photos).
4. Lightly grease a steamer basket with shortening or oil, and boil water underneath. Once boiling, place the collard rolls in the steamer and steam for 20-25 minutes, or until the collard leaves are opaque and have lost their wet sheen. Once finished, transfer logs to cool onto a cutting board for 10-15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, cut the rolls crosswise into 1.5 cm thick sections. (Iyer says these can be frozen at this point- just thaw completely before proceeding to the next step).
5. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, cover and cook until the seeds have stopped popping, around 30-60 seconds. Next, add the cumin and asafoetida, which will sizzle instantly and turn reddish-brown. Add the sliced roulade, laying them in a single layer and cook until they are lightly browned, around 1-2 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side, another minute more.
6. Spread the chopped onion, cilantro and curry leaves overtop the roulade slices. Lower the heat to medium and cover the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes, without stirring, allowing the tomato to steam and flavour the roulade slices.
7. Once ready, use a spatula to carefully remove the roulade slices and plate. Top with the tomato sauce and sprinkle with grated coconut.
Makes 20 pieces and serves 2 as a main, serves 6 as an appetizer.