One of the things we have always tried to make a priority is to learn Khmer. Ideally this should be done full time for about 18 months for someone to be fluent….with my job that will never happen. The temptation is to give up or not bother but for me talking to someone in their heart language is so important even if I can only communicate a little. So I keep plodding on little by little.
Normally I have my lesson during the school day but today is a holiday so I decided to have my lesson with my teacher at the market, much to the amusement of my local market sellers!!! I found out what the names of some of the more strange vegetables were and realized I did know quite a few already.
Some foreigners are a little wary of the market as it is a little crazy, noisy, smelly and looks dirty (underfoot) but I have found the produce to be extremely fresh and most of all I have to practice my Khmer. The sellers are very patient and helpful and sometimes I find really interesting and lovely tasting food.
Yesterday I found a seller who had these deep fried breads which tasted very similar to Indian piri piri bread and they went well with the pork Dansak which I had taught Sambath to make.
While I was at the market I bought ingredients for one of our family favorites, pumpkin and coriander soup so I thought I would share it with you.
Spicy Pumpkin and Coriander Soup
- 1/4 pumpkin
- 1 onion
- 2-3 shallots
- 1 sweet potato
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 inch fresh ginger (adjust for spiciness)
- 1/2 inch fresh turmeric (or 1/2 tsp dried turmeric)
- 100g yellow lentils
- 3 TBS dried coriander
- 1 dried chilli pepper (optional)
- fresh coriander (garnish)
- fresh yoghurt
- Wash and soak lentils
- Soak dried pepper in hot water
- Roast coriander seeds on a dry frying pan until they start popping then grind them.
- Chop and fry garlic, onions, ginger and shallots until soft
- Add in ground coriander and stir quickly then put in pumpkin and sweet potato chopped into cubes.
- Stir fry until coated then add in blended dried pepper. ( I pound in my mortar with a little of the water it soaked in until it makes a paste)
- Now add 1/2 pint of water and lentils
- Simmer until vegetables and lentils are soft. This could take about an hour. Top up water as necessary. You made need to do this several times. i put in a cup at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Leave to cool then blend until smooth then return to heat until piping hot
- Serve with chopped fresh coriander, yoghurt and bread.