Roopa Gulati gives us a preview of her upcoming demo: a last hurrah before the end of summer veg season, in which she’ll be exploring the textural transformation of vegetables through different cooking techniques, offering tips on waste saving, and showcasing various cutting techniques
August, ripe with sun-warmed produce, delivers a weighty harvest of vegetables for the late summer kitchen. Stroll through Borough Market at this time of year and you’ll find such gems as glossy aubergines, heritage beetroot, tomatoes, sweetcorn and heaps of courgettes, peppers and beans.
Each season has its own flavour palette: spring brings us the delicacy of asparagus, early summer, the sweetness of peas, and the last hurrah of the season provides for a finale of full-flavoured vegetable stews, grills, colourful salads and preserves. There’s still heat in the soil and with a little luck, the weather will hold out for a few more barbecues and picnics, before the lengthening shadows of autumn descend.
There’s beauty in simple pairings: beetroot contrasted with the tang of goat’s cheese, corn on the cob complemented with salted butter, and juicy tomatoes sliced on sourdough. It’s also rewarding to team the season’s finest offerings with culinary influences from farther afield. Perhaps it’s a twist of toasted spice to finish slow-cooked summer vegetables, or a spoonful of tamarind stirred into a sweet-sour curry, or even a dusting of fruity mango powder sprinkled over a salad.
Humble street snack
At this cookery demonstration, we’re celebrating summer vegetables with five lightly spiced recipes. First up, a cooling tomato and tamarind sorbet infused with the citrussy notes of galangal and lemon grass. We’ll then dunk piping hot Indian pakoras—fried vegetable fritters cloaked in spiced gram flour batter—into a red chilli dip. Traditionally, they’re made at the beginning of the monsoon season in south Asia and are a tribute to the ‘return of appetites’ after the searing summer heat has abated. There’s no place for cutlery when eating pakoras—whatever the occasion, this humble street snack resists refinement and is best enjoyed as finger food.
Early turnips have just started to appear on Market stalls, and I’ll be making a hearty Punjabi dish of buttery baby ones, sharpened with the tang of mango powder and the astringency of ginger and green chillies. We’ll mop up any spicy juices with an obliging chapati.
You’ll also get the low-down on making a simple vegetable pickle. I’ll add a spoonful of spice to vinegary pickling liquor and pour it over baby carrots, which will make a crunchy contrast to creamy ricotta from Gastronomica and feta cheese from The Borough Cheese Co. Spice Mountain sells a vast range of seasonings in reassuringly small tubs, which helps preserve their freshness. To round off our session, we’ll crunch our way through plenty of homemade beetroot crisps.
Ever mindful of top-to-tail eating and minimum wastage, we’ll be using the leafy carrot tops in a dip, turnip greens for the pakoras, and unpeeled beetroot for making crisps.
Join Roopa for tips, tastings and recipes Thursday 29th August in the Market Hall, 1-2:30pm