Have you ever wondered where the idiom side dish originated? Me neither. But, for some reason, I have a need to articulate its origin.
One online dictionary defines a side dish as: A dish served as an accompaniment to the main course. It’s origin is not as clear. I could not find the origin of the term side dish even given the vast resources of the Internet and a talent for putting together just the right search terms. I did, however, find this article on food and side dishes that is worth a look.
I say side dishes should stand on their own. A side dish such as my Fenugreek Potatoes is not only good on its own but is a good side to my Meaty Nut loaf entree. A side of my Curried Butternut Squash and Beets complements my Falafel Burger. A side of…well…you get the picture. If a side dish should complement the entrée or main course what should it not do?
I was eating at a restaurant in Swords, on the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland and was served an entrée of stir-fried veggies on a round plate. The server then brought a kidney-shaped plate containing three colorful and different vegetable-based salads and placed it so that the side dish wrapped around the stir-fried veggies plate. So far, so good.
After the server turned to go back to the kitchen I said to our son Robert, “This looks cool.” Robert had a weird look on his face. He had been served first and had already tasted the salads. All three were made with heavy mayo. In fact, mayo was probably the main ingredient. This side was not tasty. In fact, the salads tasted downright nasty and took away any enjoyment I might have found in the entrée. From this experience I learned that a poorly considered side dish can actually ruin the entire meal.
Here is my simple and tasty side dish recipe that tastes good and stands on its own.
4 cups of cubed, unpeeled potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons fresh ginger (minced)
1 jalapeno chile (seeded, chopped fine)
½ cup fresh fenugreek leaves (chopped fine)
salt to taste
Scrub potatoes. Cube and boil for about 10 minutes or until not quite tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger and chile. Sauté spices for about 2 minutes. Add the potato cubes, fenugreek leaves and salt to taste. Mix well and cook covered on low level for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender and all the water from the fenugreek leaves has evaporated. Serve hot and on the side!