As a dietitian, I get asked about food related things all the time. Usually at parties or social situations. “Do you have a special diet to reduce gas?” “What should I cook for my kids who are allergic to peanuts, dairy, gluten and corn?” My personal favorite, “I don’t like to exercise but do you have a diet for me to lose about 20 pounds?” Contrary to popular belief, dietitians don’t go around making up “diets” or prescribing magic food pills. It’s still a good idea to eat things in moderation and to exercise regularly but I guess that advice is just not sexy enough. (I feel a rant coming on….)
In the last several years people have been diagnosed with a lot more food allergies or intolerances. Gluten (the protein found in wheat, rhy, spelt and bulgar and wheat by-products) allergies are becoming very common as well as various nut allergies and a hyper sensitivity to high fructose corn syrup. A typical western diet is very high in gluten and processed sugars. There are two simple solutions to these dietary dilemmas: Learn to eat and actually try a variety of foods and cook something! Whenever we buy pre-packaged foods, we deliver control of our life to someone else and it costs more, not only the food but long-term health related costs. I know sometimes it can’t be avoided but I’m not willing to trade convenience for the sake good taste or health!…..official END of rant here.
Most people who live in the U.S. have never thought of cooking tapioca (which is actually a starch from the Cassava plant) in savory dishes. It is reserved mostly for puddings or the ubiquitous “frog eye salad” (not really a salad but a Jello concoction). Tapioca can be eaten in a variety of savory dishes. Here’s a Sobudhana kitchuri ( Sobudhana means Tapioca and Kitchuri basically means a “hodge podge” or “mixture”) made out of tapioca. I made a kitchuri out of Quinoa not too long ago and this is very similar. It’s a tasty alternative to rice or pasta and it’s totally gluten free and vegan. Besides the soaking of the tapioca (just do it overnight) everything comes together in 8 minutes. I timed it!
Remember the movie “field of dreams” and phrase “if you build it, they will come”? Our house is kind of like that only its “if you cook it, they will come”. Even now that we’re technically empty nesters, it is amazing how much volume of food is produced from my kitchen. I try to be as resourceful as possible and judge how much to cook to minimize leftovers but they still happen and sometimes they are thrust upon you! Earlier this week I inherited 10 baked potatoes. I teach a women’s bible study on Tuesdays and women attend from all different places (and countries) and since it starts at 6 p.m. and many of us are coming straight from work, the women take turns in groups to bring dinner. Since there over 50 of us, nobody has dinner responsibilities more than once. We end up enjoying food from different parts of the world. It’s a great way to feed our bodies and minds! This Tuesday some of the ladies created a baked potato bar and quite a few foil wrapped baked potatoes were left over. I somehow ended up with them. A couple of women even said, do something fun with it and post it on your blog.
Last night I stared at the baked potatoes and about 1/2 a cup of soaked Tapioca left over from another meal I’d recently made. Bengali people love to smash things and call it chops or boras. Smashing foods in the kitchen, I’m in! I also remembered The Great Leftover Challenge from Danny’s Kitchen, I went to the computer to see if I’d missed the deadline (it’s today) Here’s what I came up with:
Potato and Tapioca Bora
3 baked potatoes, shredded
1/2 cup or so of soaked Tapioca
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp approximately of cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper
3 green onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, I pressed it through a garlic press to make sure there were no big chunks
Oil for frying
Peel the potatoes and grate them. Add all the other ingredients and shape them into little patties and fry them in some vegetable oil. Make sure the oil is hot enough to fry quickly, should take about 4-5 minutes to fry a batch. I used a little pan with some oil so I didn’t end up with a ton of leftover oil. I thought about baking them but I knew that it would not have that crunch. I made some Cilantro chutney as well to use as a sauce.