All week I have been struck by the beauty of the vibrant plum colors. I have been struck by the similarities between the black plum and the sugar beet, as well. That thought reminded me of a dish my dear friend LD used to make for me with beets and carrots, which we fondly dubbed "madras vegetables." Well, I wondered about featuring plums in the main role of a new version of this dish with a supporting cast of vegetables. My hypothesis: The fruits actually will become more like the vegetables and the vegetables will become more fruit-like. Using Indian spices, I set off on this experiment. You could use any combination of plums, but I am using black plums, red plums, and yellow cherry plums. For the friends, I paired a golden beet with a red beet, a yellow carrot with a purple one, an orange with a lemon, and a red onion with a yellow one....in a sort of Noah's Ark approach. The colors do bleed into one another creating a spicy stew. This dish could be a served as a side of vegetables or as a stew all on its own. A dollop of sour cream finishes this off nicely. —Sagegreen
black plums, diced
red plums, diced
yellow plums or 20 cherry plums, diced
dry white wine
fresh orange juice
olive oil for cooking
ground sumac (or more lemon zest)
cardamom pods, ground
fresh lemon zest
pink salt (like Himalayan) or kosher salt
fresh lemon juice
chopped flat parsley, chive, and spearmint for garnish
Dice all the fruits and vegetables. Using a Dutch oven or similar heavy pan, combine the beets with the wine, orange juice (I use my hand lemon squeezer for oranges and lemons; see photo) and honey. Bring to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes.
Heat a heavy skillet with 2 olive oil. When hot, add the coriander, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, saffron (optional) and sumac (or use more lemon zest instead of sumac). Next add the ginger, almonds, lemon and orange zest.
Add the sliced onions to the spices and cook until translucent. Set aside.
After the beets have simmered for 25 minutes, add the carrots and the brown sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Next add any large diced plums and simmer 15-20 minutes. Add any small cherry plums in the last 10 minutes.
Add the spiced onion mix to the large pot. Add the yellow raisins if desired. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. The sauce should have thickened in this process. If not, continue to reduce. If you are not that particular about all these cooking times, well, you could simply put everything in the pot at the beginning and simmer. The plums will cook down in both instances. In either case, just before serving, add the fresh lemon juice.
Ladle this into a bowl to serve. Garnish with a medley of fresh herbs. You can add a dollop of sour cream if you like.