Spice is the variety of life. And if you love to cook, your cabinets no doubt overflow with various condiments, vinegars, spices and herbs. When I am in an ethnic grocery store I often pick up one of these items, ideally something new to me and with little identification in English. I consider this habit endearing; my husband would say it is just plain bad. Either way it is discretionary. When you are on a limited budget it is hard to outfit your kitchen with a bounty of spices. So this week, as I took the Eat on 30 Challenge started by Tami of running with tweezers, I decided to only use two spices, cumin and chili pepper in my dishes, along with the fresh mint that grows on my sill. I felt that even on a limited budget you could shell out for one spice that would transform your food. I chose cumin because it works in a variety of cuisines and tastes different when roasted and unroasted.
In case you are saying Eat on 30 Challenge, what? (#eaton30) This challenge is to help raise awareness of hunger issues in America:
- At some point during the year, 1 in 5 Americans receives food assistance from 1 or more of the 15 programs providing help.
- In 2009, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will help feed 31 million people per month. The average monthly benefit? $101.
- Between March 2007 and March 2008, the global price of food rose 43%. 1 billion people - 1/6th of the world's population - live on $1 per day.
Back to the rundown of my spices…so on Monday we started with roasted vegetable couscous. My picture was subpar but imagine whole wheat couscous painted a lovely shade of pink, nay a princess pink. It scented with fresh mint and a pinch of cumin tossed with olive oil, 3 small freshly roasted beets, 1 roasted onion and 1 roasted sweet potato. In this dish, the cumin was just a hint to round out the punch of the whole handful of mint in the couscous.
On Tuesday, without the cumin and chili pepper, the dish could not have been called chili and would not have been something we would crave for days.Tonight I had planned to make squash risotto but the Arborio would have killed my budget. Instead, I decided to make squash and sweet potato chapattis, spicy roasted squash (sliced, dusted with cumin and pepper), masoor dal cooked with caramelized onions and stir-fried cabbage and potatoes with cumin. For the dal, purple potato, wheat flour, and squash, I did break into the pantry, but I will charge myself for each based on my old receipts and yes I do keep them all at the bottom of my purse ($1, $1, 1/3 of 2.99 and $1.50). This Indian-inspired dinner was $5.57. So far for the week, with no breakfast for me because I was crazy busy and leftovers for lunch for both of us, we are at $44. $16 to use until Monday seems like we are cutting it really close—bad budgeting on my part. That said, I totally forgot this weekend is Diwali when I signed up for Eat on 30. Our part of the pot luck will be part of the challenge, but we will be feasting largely on someone’s tab. (Also, sorry for the poor state of proofing on the last post. There have been some sleepless nights lately.)
Kabocha squash and sweet potato chapatis
Roast 1 sweet potato.
Mash sweet potato with:
2 T squash
1 T olive oil
2 T yogurt
½ t salt
2 T mint leaves chopped
Add 3/4 cup or 1 cup wheat flour until the dough comes together as a ball.
Let rest for 20 minutes and then break off Susan B Anthony coin sized pieces. Roll in a ball, flatten and then roll out thin.
Cook on an unoiled skillet and then puff on an open gas flame.