One of my favorite places for home cooking in San Diego’s years past was Mr. Zia’s Afghan restaurant, on 30th St. in North Park. Mr. Zia became a friend, and even took me to the Afghani mosque during Ramadan. For those of you in San Diego, his son Khaled owns a “healthy” pizzeria on Adams Ave., named after his father, Zia’s, and has lots of vegan choices. http://www.ziagourmetpizza.com/
One of my favorite dishes at Zia’s was his turnips. Another was his cooked pears. They were made with the same recipe. I have made this with parsnips, too.
Parsnips are an amazing vegetable. For those of you trying to lose weight, parsnips are a good choice as they help balance blood sugar. Another strategy is to substitute root vegetables for your grains in the beginning of a cleansing phase, as they are harder to overeat than foods like rice and bread.
Parsnips and turnips are excellent autumn food; parsnips have a grounding energy, while turnips are warming, a little spicy, and strengthen the Lung Qi, helping prepare your body for winter.
Zia’s recipe is perfect for the fall, since fall is dominated by Vata; Vata is cold and dry, and this recipe, which is sweet, sour, slightly pungent, and unctuous, will ground, moisten and pacify Vata.
Mr. Zia’s Turnips with Parsnip
1 medium white, yellow, or sweet onion, diced
2 medium size turnips, quartered
1-2 parsnips, sliced
1-2 tbsp sesame oil
3/4 tsp turmeric
1/3 tsp cayenne
1-2 bruised green cardamom pods
2 tsp raw cane sugar, maple syrup, or grape syrup
2-3 tbsp vinegar, more or less to taste
Saute onion till brown. Add veggies, spices, vinegar, sugar, and enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, lower flame and simmer till soft. Enjoy with rice and a green veggie and some protein source of choice.
Mr. Zia’s Pears
Think Afghani Cranberry Sauce in that this is not a desert, but a side dish that goes with a meal, particularly lamb and rice.
Follow the exact same procedure as above, except better to use white or yellow onion rather than sweet. Also you may not need the sugar if your pears are sweet enough. Probably 1 tsp is good.
Enjoy yourself and be careful during the transition from summer to winter.
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