Follow the scent
04 March 2014
"Call it what you will – wild garlic, ramsons, bear leek or its Latin name allium ursinum – the delicious wholly edible beauties, with their dainty white flowers, are one of the first heralds of spring in the UK."
It’s that time of year folks, can you smell it yet? In the coming weeks the side banks and hedges of the South West will be awash with wild garlic. Iranian and Bath-based cookery teacher Simi Rezai, of Simi's Kitchen, shares a comforting and frugal recipe to whet our appetite
Isn't it weird how our minds work? When the Bath Half Marathon signs start going up around the city, the first thing I think of is; “I had better start looking out for wild garlic!”
Call it what you will – wild garlic, ramsons, bear leek or its Latin name allium ursinum – the delicious wholly edible beauties, with their dainty white flowers, are one of the first heralds of spring in the UK.
Walking along the Bath Skyline between late February and April, the air is filled with the smell of food. You can probably smell it before you see it, but do you know how to pick wild garlic? If you’re not sure what to look out for, have a look at the video made by Bath On TV, taken in Prior Park, where I show you how to identify and gather wild garlic.
Once you’ve picked your leaves, you need to look after them to make them last. I bring them home, wash them, then I wrap them in a clean cloth or paper towel and put them in a plastic bag in the drawer of the fridge. If kept this way they should last a week. This is how I treat all green leaves, be it lettuce, spinach, herbs or wild garlic.
In our home we are big fans of all things allium. I hope this simple, comforting, frugal and tasty recipe, which I have adapted, will become a spring regular on your dining table. The curry can be eaten hot, warm or cold and makes a great filling for tortillas, pitta pocket and soft baps. Plus it’s free from gluten and dairy and vegan friendly.
Simi's spicy potato and wild garlic curry
500g leftover cooked potatoes or waxy/salad potatoes
1 tbsp of oil of your choice
1 medium onion
3cm ginger, grated
2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
1tsp each of whole cumin, caraway and mustard seeds,
½ tsp turmeric
1tbsp tomato puree
2 large handfuls of washed and sliced wild garlic leaves
pinch of sugar, chilli and salt
(Wild garlic flower to add a fresh hit of garlic and to decorate. You can put whole flower, or pinch off each small star and scatter. Should you wish to add or omit spices, do.)
1. If your potatoes are raw, cube them and boil in salted water until tender but still holding their shape, then strain. If you have leftover potatoes then cut into bite size pieces.
2. Slice and fry the onions on a gentle heat for about 30-40 minutes. When caramelised reserve a tablespoon to scatter on top later. Turn the heat up just a little to get a sizzle going, and add the grated ginger, garlic and the whole spices, mix and fry for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric and continue to fry.
3. Now push this fragrant mix to one side of the frying pan, tilt the pan so a bit of oil comes out and stir in the tomato puree into the oil and cook it out. The oil turns a lovely colour and the masala smells delicious.
4. Throw in cubed boiled potatoes and coat. Once potatoes are coated in the mix and heated through add your chopped wild garlic to wilt and mix.
5. Plate the dish and scatter with reserved onions and wild garlic flower.