Asafoetida, Earth and Space
I just got home from having drinks with a friend at one of my favorite bar/restaurants here in Somerville called Highland Kitchen, where you can sit in the window and, now that's it's still light out, watch the airplanes rise into the air out of Logan. There goes Aer Lingus and Swiss Air and United. I've always had a fascination with airplanes (dad would say it's in my blood), and to this day I still get teary during take-off when the plane breaks through the clouds and I look out into the ethereal topography of the sky contrasted with the earth below and realize that for a few hours I can leave everything behind.
In my mango chutney I found it acted as a harmonizing agent between the sweet/sour aspect of the mango and the savory aspect of the peppers. It balanced out the spicy ginger and the tangy shallots. It brought it all together. While I doubted whether the stinky nature of the spice would dissipate after cooking, my experiment with asafoetida was, in fact, a success. It made me feel more confident about cooking outside of my comfort zone, which is to say, anything other than risotto, pasta or pizza. It grounded me in the essence of it's earthliness—its humble off-putting smell—and transported me to a realm of Indian cooking that was truly exciting and delicious. Mom liked it too.
2 ripe mangoes, cut into small cubes
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 TB grated ginger
1/8 tsp asafoetida
fresh spring onions
In a small frying pan, turn on heat to medium and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Once pan is hot, add your shallots and peppers. Once they begin to soften, add the ginger and asafoetida and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the shallots begin to turn golden. Turn heat to low and add the mango chunks and a few pinches of salt, paprika and cumin and continue to cook, letting the mango break down and become soft (about 12 minutes.) Add freshly sliced spring onions and serve alongside fish, beans or vegetables.