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Nuts about nuts

Posted Jan 27 2009 8:21pm
It all started with palaver, an African stew made with ground egusi seeds, leafy greens and vegies, served with chunks of meat or fish. Then I realised every country in the world makes food from toasted and ground nuts or seeds. Think satay from Indonesia or pesto from Italy or chestnut paste from France.

One of my favourite variations in an almond casserole my mum used to cook. Soak almonds overnight, slip off their skins then grind them. Make almond milk and then use the almond milk to make a bechamel sauce. Pour this sauce over steamed vegies, which you can then bake for awhile, or just serve straight up with rice or bread.

So back to the palaver. Roast and grind pumpkin seeds (assuming you can't get egusi seeds) with some raw onion, coriander powder and cumin powder to make a paste. Fry the paste in some ghee, then add some chunky vegies. Cover the base of the saucepan with water and simmer, covered till the vegies are soft. Add finely chopped spinach and more water if needed. Traditionally served with yam.

So, get creative, thicken sauces with flour, mashed vegies or eggplant. Try using walnuts, sesame seeds, pine nuts or hazelnuts. Add different vegies, and serve with different grains. Nuts are quite heavy, so a closed handful should be enough for one person, and spice them well. All nuts and seeds are good for Vata. Pita does best with skinned almonds, and should avoid cashews and peanuts because they are too hot. Kapha suits lighter sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
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