Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Living on the bread line.

Oddly coincidental fact of the day. Or coincidentally odd fact of the day. Or just plain odd:

My last six addresses have been situated on exactly the same longitude.

From residence one I went north, north again, then far north; then a long way south, almost back to the middle north; and then a little further south again. But all within a second or two of longitude. All by sheer coincidence, of course. For example, the house we are in today is two doors away from one of our previous houses: we now live on our neighbours' right, where once we lived on their left. Perhaps we helped them feel as they’d had a move as well. I’m feeling quite dizzy just writing this paragraph, so let’s have a new one.

This whole conversation line (!) came about when I was cooking silver beet. Tracy and I were discussing the most redolent neighbourhood we had lived in; redolent in the aromatic not the malodorous sense; we’ve never lived near an abattoir or a rubbish tip or a Subway store, for example.

In the early eighties I lived in a terrace fifty metres from Lygon Street. I’d open a window first thing in the morning and the smell of toast and bacon and eggs would float in along with birdsong and the morning sun. Mid-morning you’d catch a hint of garlic and onion - the brewing lunchtime sauces of a hundred restaurants - and later in the day the pizza ovens would crank up and it was baking tomatoes and dough and anchovies on the air until midnight.

Later, I went north to Brunswick where on hot summer evenings the aromatic smoke from countless grills blanketed the suburb. This was accompanied by the fragrance of flat bread baking in giant ovens, enhanced by sesame and zatar and tram bells.

And then a little farther north again, not far past Moreland Road, perhaps a kilometre or two, where Indian spices - hand-ground and warmed gently from sleep - wake and send their perfume up into the atmosphere like urgent airborne appetisers on the early evening breeze, together with hot fenugreek-flavoured roti. You can’t smell Indian cooking – in its early stages when the spices are warming and the cooking process is just beginning - and not want to eat curry. It’s impossible.

So the curry wins. This is the most fragrant suburb in Melbourne.

Oh, I almost forgot. The silver beet:

Aromatic spices with chickpeas and silver beet.

Place two tablespoons of macadamia oil in a heavy-based pan and gently cook a chopped onion, three scored cloves of garlic, a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and sweet paprika, and two teaspoons each of ground coriander and cumin seeds, until the onion is soft. You don't have to cook the onion first, just toss the whole lot in together.

Add two drained 425g tins of chickpeas, a tin of diced tomatoes, two tablespoons of tomato paste, a quarter cup of chopped dried apricots (I use the dark Turkish organic ones, not the bright orange ones) and cook through for a minute or two, stirring.

Now add a cup of water and about 500g of chopped silver beet minus stalks. Cook five minutes.

Stir through a small handful each of chopped fresh coriander and chopped fresh mint. Serve with thick yogurt and toasted segments of Lebanese bread.


Cindy said...

Dried apricots! That's a new one for me.

We can't resist the aromas of Indian spices either.

White Dove said...

Mmmmm...just love the smells of your neighbourhoods...nothing like that up here in sugar cane country

When we travelled OS we were always drawn to the fragrance of cooking smells that made our taste buds sit up and take notice...and they never failed us....always providing great local food which we thoroughly enjoyed...
have just picked some fresh silverbeet...can't wait to try your recipe!

Melbourne Girl said...

Oooh I can smell the Indian food from here...not far from you, but too far to get the aroma of your restaurants. We have our own little local Indian gem just a short drive away and it's always good.

I will try your silverbeet recipe though. I love silverbeet. Or spinach or kale or anything leafy and green

kitchen hand said...

Cindy, they are addictive.

How are the snakes up your way, White Dove?

You can't beat greens, Lesley.