Mathematics on your plate -- Romanesco with potatoes!

Now I know the title has your interest peaked! Mathematical equation on your plate! you are probably thinking you don't want the plate if it comes with an equation... or if you are more like me, then you are torn between two of the things you like a lot - mathematics and cooking! But don't worry this is a very beautiful mathematics equation which is super tasty and is not intimidating at-all.. okay okay, before you think this girl has lost her mind, let me explain :)

Have you ever heard of fractals? I first learnt about them a few years ago when I happened to stumble across a TV documentary (NOVA) about fractals and since then I have been so amazed with these little known mathematical phenomenon that even on my food blog I can't stop ranting about them :) Fractal is any geometric shape that can be split into multiple small shapes and each of the smaller shape will be an exact replica of the original shape! Now you can inturn split the smaller shapes into even more tinier shapes and they will still be the replica of the original image.. fractals have this recursive self-similarity which makes them so very unique and so very beautiful! Wikipedia has a very good article about fractals here with some of the most beautiful fractal images. If mathematics has ever come so close to beauty, this is it!!!

Now before you wonder where exactly this girl is going with fractals and dry sabzi, let me tell you the connecting link: today's ingredient, romanescos, are among the most admired natural fractals (others are snowflakes, cauliflowers, tree leaves)! There are just so many examples of fractals in the nature, only if we know to look for them :) Look at the picture of romanescos at the end of this post (its a cross between broccoli and cauliflower) and you will know what I mean! Food on your plate can be derived by a mathematical equation, food for thought indeed, right!

(Follow the read more link below for the rest of the recipe...)
Romanescos are a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. They are known for their most beautiful structure and a pale green color. I was first attracted to them in my farmer's market because of their beauty. The vendor gave me a small piece to taste and it tasted very much like cauliflwers. So I bought a bunch and cooked them the way I usually cook my broccoli with potatoes sabzi.

Recipe: Romanesco potatoes dry sabzi
Source: Something simple I put together.
1 Romanesco - chopped into smaller pieces
2 medium size russet potatoes
3 green chilis
3 cloves of garlic
1tsp cumin seeds
1/4tsp turmeric powder
1tsp coriander powder
1tsp dried kasoorti methi

Garnish: lime juice & chili flakes, salt-pepper to sprinkle on top
  1. Chop romanesco and potatoes into byte sized pieces.
  2. Steam romanesco pieces for around 7-8mins (more or less depending on the size of the pieces and the amount of romanesco). Don't let it get mushy.. when it comes out of the steamer it should be al-dente (it will cook a bit more with potatoes). Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1Tbsp of oil. When the oil is hot temper with cumin seeds followed by chopped chili peppers and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant.
  4. Then add potatoes and turmeric and pan-fry (uncovered) for ~10 mins on medium high heat uncovered.
  5. Add the steamed romanesco pieces to the potato mixture and cook (uncovered) for few more minutes; add kasoori methi, season with salt & pepper and drizzle a bit more of olive oil on top. 
  6. Serve with some fresh lime wedges and hot chapati!
  7. Marvel at the mathematics in-built in nature while you eat :D okay, just enjoy!
You see I can not stop thinking about fractals whenever I am chopping a cauliflower or romanescos, I guess I can't stop writing about fractals either when I am blogging about them :) Some things never change, they say..... :D