Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Squash and tomato stew + cornmeal dumplings

Have I mentioned that I love zucchini?  I've lived through 46 changes of the seasons, but more so than ever with every year that passes, each one seems like the first.  Today was a cool, mostly cloudy day, and I was thrilled.  I mean, spring makes me want to scream with excitement, but fall is the true home of my heart, perhaps because I was born in the fall, perhaps because I always looked forward to going back to school and so for me even at my advanced age it's still a time of new beginnings.

Anyway, on to today's dish.  This is the Squash and tomato stew from Anna Thomas's The Vegetarian Epicure, Book 2.  I did change it, but only slightly, not enough to warrant breaching the author's copyright on such an awesome dish.  The dumplings, however, are an original revelation, an experiment-in-progress that nevertheless rocked, and the recipe is in this post.

Maybe you don't need a recipe for the stew.  To make it, chop up an onion and fry it in lots of olive oil.  When translucent, add garlic, some ground cumin, and cinnamon, two minced jalapeno peppers, and a little salt.  Cook for a few minutes, then add chopped yellow winter squash or (as I did) sweet potato, along with some canned tomatoes and some water: 

Bring this mixture to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer about 40 minutes, or until the sweet potato is just barely tender.  Now add the zucchini, a few tablespoons of cilantro, and a little sugar:

It's looking nice!  Let this simmer for about five minutes, while you put together the dumpling dough.  The dumplings were an inspiration partly from Anna Thomas's recipe, and partly from another Indian recipe from so far in the past that I don't even know where it came from that called for dumplings made from urad dal flour cooked in a little sauce...but those urad dumplings were like rocks.  I figure if all-urad-all-the-time = rocks, some urad should be able to take the place of an egg in regular dumplings, and I was right!  As far as I now know, there are no subsitutions.  For instance, I know that besan (chickpea) flour would not work.  Urad flour is what you need.  It's available in medium-sized packets in my local Superstore, but certainly it's in any Indian grocery near you.

Zoa's cornmeal dumplings
Serves 2

1/2 cup corn meal
3 tbsp white flour
2 tbsp urad flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup soymilk
3/4 tbsp Earth Balance, softened

Mix together all the dry ingredients.  When just ready to cook, slightly heat the Earth Balance in the soymilk, then add to the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Drop by teaspoonfuls into the simmering stew (or soup, or boiling salted water if you're not making this stew recipe):

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes:

Serve...and if you're dying to ask if the beets added anything great to this meal, I assure you that they did, and they were beautiful when stirred into the stew, but I didn't get a picture of that, unfortunately, I was too hungry...


  1. This looks really good. I love dumplings, so I need to try these.
    It must be colder there than it is here. Your meals have a fall-ish flair to them!

  2. I was going to make a pot of chili this weekend and try a side Stacy recommended, Johnny Cakes, but I think I will try these dumplings instead (if I can get to an Indian grocery). Very beautiful.

  3. I left a comment on your last post (hot pot) but technical difficulties caused it to disappear, and now you've got another post before i could even get back to the last. Even though I'm pretty fixated on hot pots, this stew looks very good to me. The dumplings are especially appealing.

  4. Thanks for your comments. These dumplings were some of the best I've ever made, with a great texture, and the taste of the urad flour, quite strong in the batter, disappears entirely in the finished thing.

    Andrea, there will be more hot pots, never fear. I'm in love with them too!

  5. This dish looks amazing. I have never used urad flour, so this should be really fun to try.