Like an astral collision, it yanks me from the deepest of dreams. Heart pounding, I wait. Then it comes again, a percussion onslaught. Electric webs force fed from the sky to ground and then, softly but growing steadily, like the paw steps from an army of schnauzers. Rain. I smile and return to sleep.
Welcome to the desert monsoon season. It begins with a very dry heat usually in the month of May. As temperatures rise to triple digits sometimes for days on end, the jetstream shifts Northward bringing moisture from the Mexican Sea of Cortez. The arrival of moist air together with the drastic heat causes cumulous clouds and leads to theatrical displays of lightning and a symphony of thunder. Our monsoon officially begins June 15th and is finished by September 30th. On evenings like last night, we garner a full inch of glorious rain. But the desert Southwest isn’t the only locale for these adventurous storms.
Monsoon has Arabic roots from the word mausim, which means – a season. It originally described winds over the Arabian sea, blowing from the Northeast for six months and then from the Southwest for another six months. One often thinks of India as a monsoon area partially due to Mira Nair’s creation; Monsoon Wedding.
Like unpredictable weather patterns everywhere, this year the Indian Monsoon has been sketchy. This is especially difficult for the onion producing regions of Maharashtra and Gujarat where they are witnessing a drop in onion production by almost by half. Onions are a daily ingredient in many Indian kitchens and the decline in harvest will definitely affect domestic onion prices but also India’s ability to export.
adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi
- 8-10 small to medium red onions
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 cups loosely packed arugula (optional)
- handful of parsley leaves
- 4 oz soft goat’s cheese, cut into 1 inch chunks (optional)
For the salsa
- 1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 3 Tbs red-wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400. Peel the onions and cut off the tops and tails. Cut each onion widthways into three slices about 3/4 inch thick, and place on a baking tray. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle over 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until cooked and golden-brown on top. If they haven’t taken on much colour, pop them under the grill for a few minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
To serve, place arugula and parsley in a large bowl. Add the warm onions, the cheese and half the salsa, and toss gently – you don’t want the onions to fall apart. Divide between five shallow bowls or plates and spoon over the remaining salsa.