Last night I learned that some things should be left alone. I bought a pound of kovakka from the Indian grocery store the other day because the south Indian dish Kovakka Upperi is one of my favorites. It uses simple ingredients to flavor this unique vegetable: onion, red chili powder, turmeric, garam masala and coconut. The ingredients are pan fried in a bit of oil to bring out the flavors.
I thought I could create a dish around kovakka that used a different set of spices and herbs. I started by sautéing an onion and adding 3 cloves of minced garlic, arbol chili powder, oregano, thyme parsley, salt and pepper. With this much garlic, the dish should have tasted wonderful. After adding and cooking the kovakka for a very long time I tasted my creation. It was bland – absolutely no taste!
When kovakka is cooked Indian style, it is delicious. This dish was so tasteless I threw in a spoonful of Paul Prudhomme’s Vegetable Magic. His products are so good, they can fix anything. Even Paul couldn’t fix this dish.
The vegetable itself is tasteless. If I had sautéed it for another hour until it was thoroughly cooked, it might have been enough time for the seasonings to be absorbed.
The lesson I learned is that kovakka is so bland that it must be cooked with plenty of bold spices. My subtle Italian-style herbs just could not do the job. It would have been best for me to leave a good vegetable and its Indian recipes alone.
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