SERVES 4 TIME: 25 MINUTES
2 bunches asparagus (about 2 pounds)
2 teaspoons neutral oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ tablespoons neutral oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 cup)
Fine sea salt
¼ cup Tangy Tamarind Chutney (see below)
Preheat oven to 425°F and set the oven rack in the center of the oven.
Prep the asparagus: Snap off and discard the tough ends of the spears, rinse them in a colander, and pat them dry with a dish towel. Set them on a large baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Season with a little kosher salt and a few grindings of pepper and toss until they are glossy and well coated. (The chutney has salt in it, so go lightly here.)
Roast the asparagus spears for 10 to 12 minutes if they are about ½ inch in diameter and up to 20 minutes if they’re very thick. Flip them once midway through the roasting time.
Fry the shallots: While the asparagus is roasting, set a paper towel–lined plate next to the stove. Heat the oil in an 8- to 10-inch skillet over medium heat, add the shallots, and stir them frequently. If the heat is too high, they will brown unevenly, so keep it at medium. Continue stirring until the shallots are a mix of medium brown and dark brown, 3 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the shallots to the prepared plate, lightly sprinkle with fine sea salt, and set aside.
When the asparagus is done, arrange it on a warm serving platter, drizzle the tamarind chutney evenly over the spears, and scatter the shallots over the top. Serve immediately
Snap your asparagus as close to the base as possible to get every tender bit of it.
Serve this with a roasted chicken or grilled steak.
It also makes a nice side dish to accompany pasta or paella.
Sprinkle chopped hard-boiled eggs or crumbled goat cheese on top.
TANGY TAMARIND CHUTNEY
Tamarind chutney is one of the best uses of tamarind on the planet! A favorite condiment for Indian snacks and street food, this chutney showcases the fruit’s date-like depth and tangy acidity, and balances them with brown sugar sweetness and the woody flavors of ginger and cumin. For all that complex flavor, it’s actually very easy to make and it keeps a long time. It’s a fantastic accompaniment to crispy fried food, but it’s also terrific drizzled over roasted vegetables.
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
¼ cup tamarind paste or concentrate
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
12 slices ginger (⅛ inch thick)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1¾ cups water
½ teaspoon North Indian garam masala, store-bought or homemade
In a small frying pan over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds, stirring and shaking the pan frequently, until they turn a darker shade of brown, release their fragrance, and smoke just a little, which will take 2 to 3 minutes. Stay close; you don’t want them to burn. Tip the cumin seeds onto a plate so they immediately stop toasting. After a few minutes, when they are cool, grind them to a powder in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
Make the chutney: Combine the toasted cumin, tamarind paste, brown sugar, ginger, salt, and water in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the mixture is simmering at a lively rate and cook until it is a little thicker than soy sauce, about 20 minutes (it will thicken a lot more after it cools).
Remove the mixture from the heat and take out and discard the ginger slices. Stir in the garam masala and transfer the chutney to a heatproof glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
A trick for measuring tamarind is to smear a few drops of oil inside the measuring cup before pouring in the tamarind. This helps it slip out without sticking.
Look for jarred tamarind paste or concentrate with a molasses-like texture.
“Indian Flavor Every Day Copyright © 2023 by Maya Kaimal. Photographs copyright © 2023 by Eva Kolenko. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.”
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