Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Alicha (Sauteed Mixed Vegetables w/Turmeric)

Alicha (Sauteed Mixed Vegetables) from Bsrat M. on Vimeo.

Ah, lovely, golden alicha. This is one of my favorite dishes. And I get really annoyed in some restaurants when it’s presented as a bland afterthought to the meat dishes – a haphazard array of tired carrots and pale potatoes, overwhelmed by even weaker-looking cabbage. When made properly, alicha should be really flavorful and bright, and not hidden in the nether regions of your plate.

Alicha is just a combination of sautéed vegetables flavored with turmeric (which gives it its golden color). A mixture of cabbage, carrots, and potatoes is most common, but I’ve also seen string beans, bell peppers, and zucchini used. This is really just a method, not a recipe, so feel free to use any vegetables you like. 

One thing about making alicha that always confused me was the order in which I was supposed to add each different vegetable.  You can’t add them all at the same time, as some cook faster than others. I’ve learned that string beans take the longest, then cabbage, then carrots, then potatoes. So you should add them in that order, once the last ingredient has started to soften. It will make sense when you watch the clip or read the recipe.

By the way, I’ve presented a really simple version, in which all the vegetables are cooked together in the same pot. In some households, the vegetables are all sautéed (or fried) separately and then mixed together.  The next time I make this, I’ll cook the green beans separately and blanche them, to keep them bright green and prevent them from falling apart, as they do in the clip.

Alicha (Mixed Sautéed Vegetables w Turmeric)
(Serves 6)

½ - ¾ lb of French or string beans, cut in 2 inch pieces with stem ends removed 
1 lb of cabbage, chopped in 2 inch pieces
4 medium carrots, chopped in 2 inch pieces
4 medium potatoes, sliced in 2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 jalepeno pepper, quartered
vegetable oil
turmeric, 1 tablespoon
adobo all purpose seasoning to taste (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook the onions covered over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil and continue to cook covered until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and cook briefly, until it softens, but doesn’t burn.
  2. Add the French beans and cook covered until they begin to soften, probably for 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Stir in the cabbage and cook covered. When the cabbage becomes soft and translucent, add the carrots and continue to cook covered.
  4. When the carrots begin to soften, add the potatoes and guess what – continue to cook covered.
  5. When the potatoes soften, add the turmeric, salt, pepper, Adobo, and jalepeno pepper.
  6. Continue to cook and stir occasionally for about 7 minutes, or until it tastes like its done. The alicha should be golden – if not you might need to add more turmeric and cook for a couple minutes longer. Remove from heat.