Watermelon Rind and Bean Curry

Throwing food is something I try to avoid as much as possible. Almost everything we buy gets eaten or used this way or another. In this case, I’m referring to watermelon rind. Did you ever think it was edible? I didn’t think about it until a few months ago when a friend brought me some mysterious preserves she made. I couldn’t figure out what she could possibly had used to make the preserves. I was very surprised when she finally revealed her “secret” ingredient – watermelon rind. I enjoyed it, but when it was gone, I moved on with my life and completely forgot about it.

Yesterday, I brought home a watermelon. My husband cut it and placed the wedges in a special container, and we were left with a big amount of the rind. Just before we were about to dump it in the compost bin, my son reminded us of those preserves we all enjoyed, which gave me an idea. Try and make a savory dish using the rind as the main ingredient. I decided to go completely untraditional and use unconventional combinations of ingredients and flavors, and got some inspiration from a post I found in the blog Sumptuous Spoonfuls.

I think my creation came out pretty good…

Ingredients:
Sauce:
2 tbs minced fresh ginger
4 large cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1 medium lime
2 tbs palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
2 tbs peanut butter
2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs soy sauce
5 tbs Thai masaman curry paste
1 15oz can coconut milk
4 tbs chopped cilantro
2 tbs Thai fish sauce (optional)

5-6 cups watermelon rind, peeled and cubed
3 tbs oil
3 cups cooked beans (I used pinto beans)
8 medium baby Bella mushrooms, sliced into thick slices

Preparation:
In a medium bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and add the watermelon cubes. Sauté for 6-7 minutes over high heat, stirring the watermelon occasionally. The watermelon should be lightly seared and wilted.

Add the sliced mushrooms, the beans and the sauce. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 more minutes.

Green Papaya Salad

A friend from work brought me papayas from his tree, one ripe and the other one green. With the ripe one, I baked a papaya bread and used whatever was left in fruit salad.

But I was especially excited about the green papaya. For a while now, I’ve been wanting to try and make the famous Thai green papaya salad, and there was my chance.

When I read through some recipes it seemed like making the salad was a piece of cake. When I actually started making it, I realized that although the salad was not hard to make, it was time consuming. Luckily, the salad was so delicious and refreshing that it was worth the time put into making it. I’ll most probably make it again.

1 ½ lb green papaya (1 large or 2 medium papayas)
8 cloves garlic
3 small Thai chilies
1 ½ tbs coconut palm sugar or golden-brown sugar
3 tbs Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 cup sliced green beans
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
6 tbs fresh lime juice
½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped

Peel the papaya and cut in half. Discard of the seeds. Slice the papaya into thin slices, where it is still green (my papaya was already changing color into orange on the inside). Cut the slices into thin julienne strips. Use a mortar or a meat tenderizer tool to lightly pound the papaya strips. It will make the strips absorb the sauce better.

Lightly pound the string bean strips and the tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Add the pounded papaya and the chopped peanuts.

Place the garlic and chilies in a mortar and pound them to bits. Add the sugar and fish sauce and blend them in using the pestle. If you do not have a pestle and mortar, place the ingredients in a small food processor bowl equipped with the blade and chop thinly. Add the lime juice and mix well.

Pour the sauce on the vegetables in the large bowl, mix well and serve.

Banana Lotti

Banana Lotti (Roti) is a famous Thai street food that actually originated in India. The original recipe consists of pieces of banana and condensed milk wrapped in a crepe-like dough, and fried on a griddle so the banana is kind of dissolved. When cooked, it is drizzled with condensed milk on top, and served hot.

I was looking for a recipe of this mouthwatering dessert to make at home, and came across the following gluten and dairy free version (it is also vegan). Since the preparation in this recipe seemed much easier than the original lotti, and the recipe actually sounded yummy, I’ve decided to give it a try.

It became an instant hit in our house. We will surely make it again, and I highly recommend it to all my friends who try to avoid gluten, dairy, and/or are vegans, and to all of you who like really good exotic desserts.

 Ingredients:
4 ripe bananas
8 rice papers for spring rolls
3 tbs coconut oil
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup chopped nuts
Maple syrup for drizzling

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 430F.

Oil an ovenproof baking dish with one tablespoon of the coconut oil.

Cut each banana in half.

Dip one rice paper in a bowl with water for a few seconds, then set on a work surface, and place half a banana in the middle.

Wrap the rice paper around the banana to create a pocket. Place in the greased baking dish.

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Repeat the process with the rest of the rice papers and bananas.

Brush the wrapped bananas with the rest of the coconut oil and bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until the rice paper is starting to crisp a little.

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Remove from the heat. Place each banana pocket on a serving dish and sprinkle with coconut flakes and chopped nuts (I used salted and roasted nuts). Drizzle some syrup on top and enjoy! I actually skipped the syrup on my banana. It was already sweet enough for me as is.

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I still want to try and make the original Lotti recipe. I’ll keep you posted…

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