Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.~ Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Our party host Penny of Jeroxie blog had us all 'cobblered' this month and believe me when I say this... it is a rare occasion that I will post something savory up on this blog, least of all a cobbler. When you hear the word 'cobbler', images of the freshest seasonal fruits dotted all over or buried underneath something sweet tend to flash across the mind. Correction, make that my mind.
That is why I find it most bizarre that whenever I'm participating in cooking groups such as this International Incident Party (IIP), the savory side of me that forever struggles to exert her presence against that dominatrix of a sweet-toothed side, manages to find a voice loud enough for me to hear her version of a cooking theme - and often (wow!) wins. Case in point, this is my fifth savory IIP dish in a row.... what is happening to me?!
Do you want to know made me bow down to my savory persona? This Murraya koenigii tree.
It's also known as the Curry Leaf tree, and it grows right in my backyard. In fact, I hadn't realized its presence over the years until I started this blog and more importantly, cooking in earnest. You see, when I moved into this property, my mother the green-fingered extraordinaire, had already planted numerous fruit trees, flowering plants, herbs and landscaped bushes. I think she may have made up her mind back then that we could live however the hell we wanted inside our home but no way would she allow us to completely screw up our garden! Why? Because that's the first thing the neighbors and passers-by would see and judge us by. But of course....
So ever since I became conscious of the existence of our curry leaf tree, I had been looking for more ways to use its impossibly-hard-to-describe but highly aromatic leaves. Our usage of curry leaves in Asian cuisine is akin to that of bay leaves in Western cuisine, but they are not the same thing. I've thrown in curry leaves to flavor many curries and also used them in chutneys and savory preserves, but that was about it. Then when this cobbler idea came around, it occurred to me how brilliantly the curry leaves would impart its flavor somewhere in there. Exactly where, I hadn't decided then, but that slowly came to me too. The topping, which would be made out of curry leaf biscuit dough!
As for the cobbler filling, I decided tomatoes would be a good savory choice and since I had some beetroot left over, that went into the bowl too. You can never have enough red in your food, that's my philosophy! To spice it up a bit, I added purple Thai basil and cumin. I don't know if you already realize this, but those two go horrendously well together. Too well, that I can't seem to stop pairing them up in other recipes as well!
Oh, one more thing....the turmeric. I added a dash to the biscuit dough not only for its warm, inviting color but for the easy way it mingled and danced around the curry leaf flavor. The buttery, exotic biscuit topping totally complemented the earthy, comforting tomato and beetroot filling. If all human marriages were like this cobbler, I suspect the world would be a content place. Yes, boring too, but you can't have everything, can you?
We are a cosy party of 5 this month, so why don't you come and party with us? Just click on the thumbnails below this post to be in our midst. Thanks again Penny, for pushing me beyond my comfort (sweet-toothed) zone :-).
I'd like to end this post with Adele's video, Set Fire to the Rain, my current favorite song. I'm sorry I have to run back to her again...I simply love her fantastic voice. Someone once said, it's like listening to God!
Savory Tomato and Beetroot Cobbler with Turmeric Curry Leaf Biscuit ToppingServes: 4
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
450g (1 lb) grape or cherry tomatoes
1 medium beetroot, cubed
3 tablespoons chopped purple basil leaves (or regular basil)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
Turmeric Curry Leaf Biscuit Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
15 pieces curry leaves, rolled and sliced thinly (chiffonade)
60g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream, buttermilk or creme fraiche
Extra cream, for brushing
1. Make the filling: Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and softened. Add garlic and cumin seeds and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Let cool.
2. Toss onion mixture, tomatoes, beetroot, flour, and basil with salt and some pepper.
3.Preheat oven to 180C/375F.
4. Make the biscuit topping: Whisk together flour, baking powder, turmeric, curry leaves and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until small clumps form. Add cream or buttermilk, stirring with a fork to combine until dough forms. (Dough will be slightly sticky.) Roll dough to about 1cm thickness and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter.
5. Transfer tomato mixture to 4 small ramekins. Arrange biscuit dough all over the top, making sure not to overlap dough. Brush dough with cream. Bake until tomatoes and beetroot are bubbling in the center and biscuits are golden brown, about 45-50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.