Wednesday, January 19, 2011

[fierce foodie: Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha] PART 2 recipe.


We have the power to heal ourselves by
going back home and making new ones.

to see the PART 1 of this fierce foodie, Leah's intense and truth-bearing ideas on food, healing, favorite spots to get down and delicious, see here. now onto Leah's recipe as she delves into her health with fibromyalgia, talks about her home tastes, and gives some good understanding how colonial conquest can wreck our spirits/bodies/taste buds. home food, as she describes it, as we all know it to be, re-centers our nourishment to our roots, to our self-care and many times, to people we love who help us with those groceries, who check-in and let you know that the pot needs more salt, soy sauce, curry, less water next time.

i love this recipe because it appears dense, isn't a one pot meal, but is incredibly accessible. the end game here is when it is all put together, when that whole plate of mallung, parippu, and chicken welcomes you, the layered method ties in something that as Leah put it, is easy and fast enough to cook often, is healing. let Leah and RFP know if you take a swing at this food in your own kitchen. we'd love to hear your stories, results, and reflections.


leah's diaspora lankan dinner: mallung, parippu, easy south indian chicken
serves 4, or 2 very hungry folks

I've been dancing and limping with fibromyalgia since 1998. That's
twelve years of figuring out how to heal and bless my beautifulbroken (1)
body dancing with a complex, delightful (yes, it took me 12 years to
say that- and no diss to folks who are in the middle of hating the ass
off of their chronic illness) autoimmune condition caused by trauma,
abuse and environmental toxicity- and the trauma of environmental
toxicity, because "environmental toxicity" is another word for the
trauma done to the world's land by capitalism and colonial theft. this
has been a dance that has occured in ballrooms outside of western
medicine, the HMO, and lots of cash or pills. along the way I've
learned from and been changed by herbs, a regular bed time, quitting
smoking, swimming, soaking in the tub with sea salt, my spiritual
practice, love, disability justice, QTPOC crip love and interdependence
(can I borrow twenty bucks? do you need a ride to BART? want me
to come over and rub your feet?) good cheap food and desi somatics,
aka brown girl yoga.

my body doesn't have a "cure."
the cure, lesson and challenge thrown down is to see what stories my
body is telling and listen to them. they're stories about violant
famillies and pesticides and rust belt lead soaked into soil. about
blue collar brilliance bioremediating heavy metals and arsenic out of
soil through old carpet and hair, about brown girl hips removing
themselves from violence and making a new family, relearning how to
cook with jaffna curry, kari leaf and tumeric soothing my swollen
joints and cleearing my chronic infections. this body's the only thing
I'll ever own. cooking for healing for peops of color with chronic
illnesses and disabilities isn't about white people veganism- it's about
home food.

I picked this menu because it brings me the taste of home
in Sri Lankan and South Indian recipes, is easy and fast enough
to cook often, and is healing- you get a big hit of vitamins from
the greens, tumeric is cooling and healing to swollen joints, lentils
like any legume are packed with vitamins and nutrients, and
chicken gives me a nice hit of good protein and fat that my
shark body craves.

leah's diaspora lankan dinner: mallung, parippu, easy south indian chicken
serves 4, or 2 very hungry folks

mallung: sri lankan greens
mallung is any kind of greens, very finely shredded and sauteed fast,
with classic Lankan seasonings of kari leaf, tumeric, chili, mustard
seeds, and coconut. I could eat this every day.

  • one bunch of greens (my all time fav is red mustard, but you can use kale, collards, green mustard, callallo, gai lan, whatever is fresh.)
  • kari/curry leavess, 20-40, fresh or frozen. (don't use dried! the flavor is gone and it tastes gross! most desi and all Lankan groceries will sell these, they'll be in a little ziplock baggie in the refrigerated section. you can also grow them yourself if you have any kind of temperate climate, and Lankans in Toronto grow them inside their apartments during our -35 winters. if you get fresh, freeze what you don't use right away.)
  • 1 big teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 big teaspoon black mustard seed
  • 1-2 green chilis, chopped fine
  • dried coconut, for top
  • oil of choice- I use olive for everything.

take your ammachi/ grandma's cleaver or the knife from IKEA and cut
the greens as fine as you can. in order to perfect the texture, you
have to almost shred the greens. curling the washed leaves into a
tight round and then slicing narrow as possible is the way- we're
talking hair thin.

heat oil in pan or wok. add mustard seeds til they pop. stir in kari/curry leaves til they
smell good (like 20 seconds.) throw in tumeric and chili and cook a minute more. then
throw in greens and satuee fast. you want them to be cooked but still bright green. when
they are, remove from heat; sprinkle with dried coconut.

parippu: red lentil/masoor dhal with coconut
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 medium onion

  • 3 dried red or fresh green chilis
  • a handful of curry/kari leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin/jeera
  • 1/2 can coconut milk, or, even better, half a bar of creamed coconut (the solid kind made by Mr. Goudas and other brands- looks like a bar of soap, but is made out of solid coconut) chopped fine
  • salt to taste
  • water

Take your dhal/parippu/lentils and wash them well in several changes of water. In
a medium pan, saute the onion and curry leaves in oil until softened and fragrant.
Add the spices and cook til aromatic, Throw in the washed lentils and 2 cups of
water and the coconut. cook on medium-low heat, stirring, til lentils are softened
and the whole thing smells great. Add salt to taste.

south indian marinated chicken curry bbq
  • chicken of choice- get 4 legs from the halal market or one package free range drumsticks from trader joe's.
  • yogurt
  • jaffna curry powder
  • olive oil
  • one onion, thinly sliced.


preheat oven to 425 F.
In mixing bowl, mix 1/2 cup yogurt with 1-2 tablespoons Jaffna
curry powder, 1 tablespoon olive oil. Take chicken and mix with
yogurt/spice mix, rubbing chicken good with it. Ideally, let sit from
1 hour to overnight so the chicken gets super tender and absorbs
the spices and moistness of the yogurt. (The enzymes in the yogurt
will help break down the chicken, making it super tender and
succulent.) However, I have been known to throw the chicken
in the yogurt right when I turn the oven on. if your chicken is
about to go bad, this marinade will preserve it for a couple days.

When ready, place the chicken legs directly on the oven rack. place thin slices of onion
on top. On the rack below, place a baking pan with an inch of water in it. bake for 15
minutes, then reduce heat to 375. Chicken will be done in 45 more minutes and will be
moist with a crispy skin and charred onion on top.

Serve with a grain of your choice and eat with folks you love.

(1) concept developed by Alexis Pauline Gumbs,

**RFP editor's note: all recipes shared by FIERCE FOODIE
contributors are recipes written by the Fierce Foodies themselves.
no revisions or edits are made with exception to grammatical, spelling,
etc. the recipe, its style, content, format, implementation, and
accuracy solely reflect the Fierce Foodie contributor and
not the creative/culinary choices of RFP.

1 comment:

  1. Hey RFP & Leah, thanks so much for this recipe, your great reflection on health and how our friends/family/cultures heal and support us. Very inspiring!