Monday, May 19, 2014

Roasted Asparagus with Nigella seeds, Kashundi and then Pesto

For six or more months, the trees here are bare, the air sharp with cold and frost, the grass bleached under a shifting layer of snow, and the birds far far away. But when spring arrives, they all come back with a vengeance.

The grass sprouts a bright green and the dandelions stand upright, their tiny yellow flowers looking boldly towards the brilliant blue sky. Yeah, they may be weeds, but so what ? It is spring, isn't it ? The leaves unfurl magically and all of a sudden the trees have a wild unruly head of green, like a little girl in need of a haircut. The birds arrive from God knows where and tweet urgently early in the morning. Tweet-Tweet.They continue their conversation throughout the day, short sharp busy tweets interspersed with slow lazy longer ones, talking of the far away land they visited and probably dissing those distant relatives who boarded them in winter.The flowers bloom in all colors, stretching their limbs, fresh and raring to go for a ball, after the long winter slumber.

It all seems very fairy-tale kind.


How did it all happen ? Who tapped the wand?

I have been in this country for a fair amount of years now and yet every year Spring mesmerizes me.I am awed by the resilience of nature around me. Chin up, head held high, giving a repeat performance year, after year, after year.

"This is our time and we will give it our best shot." They say. "We will pick the most vibrant of all greens in the palette, the brilliant of all blues in the paint box, the boldest red and yellow and purple of our crayons and we will paint a picture that you will carry in our heart even when the colors have wiped off and the canvas is white.And we will come back and do it again."

It is hard not to be carried away with such a show of fortitude and so I spend almost all of my weekends and afternoons, sitting outside, drinking my tea, admiring every weed and bud, and planting anything I can lay my hand on. I am hardly a gardener and so I choose the easy and hardy petunias or marigolds to color my garden. It is little that I  do but there is so much joy to be just under the tent and play a tiny role in spreading that magic that it seems only fair to be outside.

I am hardly in the kitchen therefore. Making quick easy meals is the call of the day.

And this asparagus fits the bill perfectly. I never used to like Asparagus and I have to say it was my friend N's recipe which first pushed me towards trying it. It is so simple that it isn't even much of a recipe really. Once I got the hang of it, I experimented, doing this or that, still keeping it simple. However I have a fondness only for the tender spears and once they get fat and chewy, I lose my interest in asparagus and prefer to wait until next year.

This particular recipe is for a Roasted Asparagus in the oven flavored with Nigella seeds, Kashundi and Pesto.

The key is to get fresh, tender asparagus spears. Which by the way can happen easily in spring.

You then chop and discard the tough bottom portions. Wash them well and pat dry.

Pre-heat oven to 350F

Next take a shallow baking dish or foil covered oven tray and drizzle with 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Add 1/4 tsp of Kalo Jera/Kalonji to the oil and pop the tray in the oven for 3-4 minutes.

Now take out the tray and arrange the asparagus spears in a single layer on the tray.
Sprinkle a little garlic powder(very little). You can also use minced garlic.
Sprinkle some salt to taste
Drizzle a tsp of Kashundi.

Roll the spears so that they are all coated with olive oil+ kalonji + salt + Kashundi + garlic

Pop back in the oven for say 15-20 minutes or so. Time depends on your oven power and the quality of the asparagus. There have been times when 15 minutes was enough for them to get cooked, while at times it also takes 25 mins.

Once the asparagus are done, take them out and eat.

We rubbed those cooked spears with some pesto+green chilli paste. It was so so good.

Almost Magical. Like Spring.

Roasted Asparagus with Nigella seeds, Kashundi and then Pesto


  1. Hi Sandeepa, the event I had mentioned to you - I am keeping a dish Kalo jeere Asparagus and I was so surprised to see this recipe now. Addition of Pesto is interesting. Even Posto for that matter!

  2. You described "Spring" so well - lovely writing.


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