As we know, fiddleheads are one of the early harbingers of spring in New York. I had learnt to love them for their seasonal quality and enjoy them in pasta. Imagine my surprise when my friend Swapna informed me that fiddlehead ferns are also traditional in Eastern India and savored when available and the season permits.
Her recipe, which I have modified and made mine and actually shared in my cookbook, tosses the fern with potatoes, turmeric and nigella seeds. It adds enough spunk to tantalize your tastbuds but is mild enough not to overpower this delicate vegetable. This recipe will work well with tender asparagus and green beans too, so there you have it, once you try it, you have something to take you through summer.
A lightly seasoned Bengali Style Stir fry of Fiddlehead ferns, potato and nigella seeds.
- 1 cup fiddlehead ferns (about ½ pound), trimmed
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1½ tablespoons mustard or canolla oil
- ½ teaspoon nigella seeds
- 2 medium russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled and chopped
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
- 1 or 2 green chilies
- 1 dried red chili
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger paste (page 13)
- 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
- Put the fiddlehead ferns, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 3 cups of water in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil on medium heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Place in a
- colander to drain.
- Heat the oil in a wok or skillet on medium-high heat for about 1
- minute. Add the nigella seeds and wait for them to sizzle. Add the potatoes,
- turmeric, and cayenne pepper powder and cook, stirring frequently, for about
- 5 minutes, until the potatoes are golden and crisp.
- Once the potatoes are crisp and a nice golden brown color, add the remaining
- teaspoon of salt, the green chilies, red chili, and ginger paste and sauté for
- another minute. Add the drained fiddlehead ferns and the ghee and cook for
- another 2 minutes.
Recipe from the Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, Rinku Bhattacharya, Hippocrene Books, 2012