Category: Greens

Kaku and Kakima had invited us for lunch at their place when we were in Kolkata. That was during the first year of my marriage and my first time indulging in an authentic Bengali fare. I simply fell in love with Bong cuisine. All those veggies that I detested earlier suddenly were endearing and I regretted having troubled Amma by being a fussy-picky eater that I was! Abbas teases me saying you were destined to be a Bengali but somehow you were born a Konkani. 
Coming back to Kakima, she addresses me as her ‘Choto Meye’ (younger daughter) and Abbas as her Jamai. She creates wonders in kitchen. If some dish goes wrong, she analyzes it and provides instant solution that magically changes the taste. She loves to feed and serve and always eats only after she makes sure that everyone has eaten. This dish is one of our favourites and I have never been able to match Kakima’s version. Although the recipe is simple and tastes good, we miss Kakima’s love in it each time I make it.
Spinach – 3 tiny bunches
Potato – 3/4 cup, diced
Pumpkin – 3/4 cup, diced
Brinjal – 3/4 cup, diced
Ridge Gourd – 3/4 cup, diced
Bori – 1/4 cup (optional)
Panch Phoran – 1 tsp
Red chillies – 1 nos, broken into 3-4 peices
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Bhaja Masala powder – 2 tsp (you may substitute with garam masala powder)
Ghee – 1 tsp
Oil – 4 tbsp
Green chillies – 2-3, finely chopped (increase or decrease as suitable)
Sugar – 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves – a handful, chopped (optional)
Water – 1/2 cup
Salt – to taste
1. Wash spinach leaves thoroughly in atleast 3 changes of water. Finely chop and keep aside. You may use tender stems of spinach by chopping them in 1″long pieces.
2. Heat oil in a pan.Add turmeric and salt. Add cubed potatoes. Saute till potatoes are uniformly roasted and turn golden in colour. Remove from pan and keep aside.
3. Repeat the same procedure for pumpkin, brinjal and boris.
4. In the remaining oil, add panch phoron and red chilli pieces.
5. Once the tempering splutters, add all the sauteed veggies, ridge gourd, boris and spinach leaves and stems. Add salt, sugar, green chillies, coriander leaves, water and combine.
6. Cover and keep on low flame. Stir once in a while. Once all veggies are cooked, increase flame and cook till extra water (if any) evaporates. This dish is neither too dry nor has any gravy.
7. Remove from flame. Sprinkle bhaja masala powder and ghee on top. Cover immediately. Give a brief stir before serving.


Methi Fried Rice

This post was lying in my draft section for ages and today I finally it is gonna see the light of day! I love greens and always try to include them in our food. Abbas is not fond of greens featuring in a stand alone dish. So I sneak them in curries / pooris / paranthas / rice. This was one such attempt where I made mixed fried rice sprinkled with generous amount of fenugreek leaves.

Off to the recipe:

Basmati rice – 2 cups
Chopped veggies (carrot, beans, capsicum, onions) – 1 cup
Shrimps – 15-20, deshelled, deveined and cleaned (optional)
Shredded chicken pieces – 15-20 (optional)
Eggs – 2 (optional for vegetarians, but I don’t like my fried rice w/o eggs)
Fenugreek leaves – 1/2 cup
Soya Sauce – 1 tbsp
Maggi Cube – 1
Pepper powder – to tase
Salt – to taste
Oil – 3 tbsp
White vinegar – 1 tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp

1. Wash and soak rice in sufficient water for 30 mins.
2. Boil 4 cups water in a vessel. Add soaked rice, salt, few drops of oil and vinegar. Let it cook. Keep checking to make sure the rice doesn’t get fully cooked. Remove from flame when the rice is ‘almost’ cooked. Drain the water away. Spread rice on a flat surface. Do not cover it. Keep aside.
3. Stir in 1 tsp each of sugar and salt in about 2 cups of water. Soak the fenugreek leaves in this solution for about 15 mins. Strain the water and tightly squeeze out extra water. Saute the leaves in a tsp of oil for about 2-3 mins. Keep aside.
4. In a pan, heat 1 tsp of oil. Add eggs, salt. Scramble the eggs and keep aside.
5. In the same pan, add 1 tsp of oil, fry chicken pieces and shrimp with some salt. Remove and keep aside till the rice cools down.
6. In the same pan take rest of the oil, add all the veggies.
7. Once the veggies are sauted, add soya sauce, shrimp, chicken, scrambled eggs, chopped mint and coriander leaves and rice. Sprinkle maggi cube powder. Mix well.
8. Check salt at this stage. If less, add a bit more of soya sauce or maggi cube (both are salty and mix well with rice instead of raw salt) and mix.

Due to unavailability of VaaLi or Malabar Spinach, this dish laid back in my memory which used to be my favourite. Whenever Amma brought VaaLi home, it was mostly Vaali Ambat. I used to make frequent requests for this Sukke also. It’s so easy to make and finger licking good. I can have a couple of bowlfuls of this dish and easily skip a meal given an option. Recently most of the supermarkets have this on offer and I am a happy girl. During last visit, I bought two bunches and they were undiscriminatedly divided to make a Bong Side Dish with Hilsa fish head (which is like a classic) and the next day I make this dish.

VaaLi / Malabar Spinach – 1 punch
Coconut – 1/2 cup, grated
Red chillies – 8-10 (or as per spice tolerance)
Tamarind – a marble sized ball
Salt – to taste
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
Garlic cloves – 10-12

1. Chop leaves of spinach and cut the tender stems in 1″ pieces. Pressure cook for 2 whistles.
2. Grind together coconut, red chillies, tamarind and salt together with a little water.
3. Add this masala to the cooked spinach and boil well till well blended. Adjust any salt required. Keep aside.
4. Heat oil in a pan. Add the garlic cloves and saute on low flame till they are uniformly cooked on all sides.
5. Pour this tempering on the spinach mixture.
6. This is served as an accompaniment with rice.

Sending this to Priya’s Veggie/Fruit A Month – Coconut

I love the red Amarnath leaves more than the green variety. When we were in Chennai, never found the red ones. So Ma had sent a few bunches of red Amarnath with Abbas, I made this stir fry and ate to heart’s content. But red ones are abundant here in Bangalore. Combo of greens with garlic is a match made in heaven and I add extra doze of garlic than perhaps required coz I am a fanatical garlic lover.
Amarnath leaves – 2 cups packed, cleaned and chopped
Potato – 1 small, cut into 1″cm squares
Garlic cloves – 8-10, finely chopped
Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped (optional)
Red chilly – 1, broken into 3-4 pieces
Nigella seeds / Kala jeera – 1/4 tsp
Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder – a pinch
1. Heat oil in a pan. Add nigella seeds and red chillies. Add chopped garlic and saute till light brown.
2. Add garlic paste and saute till raw smell goes away. Add onion and saute till transparent and pinkish.
3. Add potato pieces and stir till they turn slightly golden.
4. Now add chopped greens, turmeric powder, salt. No need to add water. Greens will release lot of water. Reduce flame immediately and cover with lid.
5. Stir once in 5 mins and cook till greens and potatoes are cooked.
6. Once cooked, remove the lid, increase flame to high and cook till excess water is evaporated.
1. Along with leaves, tender stems can also be used.
2. Wash greens thoroughly atleast thrice to remove any sand particles from them.
3. I always soak the greens in a big vessel full of water and then remove leaves and put in a colander. Repeat same atleast thrice until the water u soak greens in comes out clear.

Ma made this as she saw this in one of the cookery shows. She forgot the name of this dish. She claimed that this dish belongs to Orissa. So I asked many of my Oriya friends describing the dish with ingredients to find out what it is called. But they weren’t able to name it. Here I simply christen it as Methi Chapathi. It tastes slightly different than our regular Chapathi as the dough is kneaded using curd. We absolutely loved it with Alur Torkari as side for dinner.
Fenugreek leaves – a fistful, cleaned
Wheat flour / Atta – 2 cups
Curd – 1 cup
Red chilli powder – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste
Sugar – 1 tsp
Water – if required to need
Oil – ½ tsp for each chapathi
  1. Soak methi leaves in water mixed with little salt and sugar and keep aside for 15 mins. Strain the methi leaves squeeze excess water off.
  2. Mix all the ingredients except oil and water and knead well. Add water or wheat floor to get a smooth but firm dough.
  3. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep aside for about 30 mins.
  4. Make smalls balls out of the dough and roll into small discs using a rolling pan.
  5. Heat griddle and place a disc, sprinkle few drops of oil. Once the chapathi starts fluffing, invert and again sprinkle oil. Once it is properly cooked on both sides, remove from griddle and repeat for rest of the dough.
My li’l fairies always happy to help in kitchen…

And the final platter…

I can survive on only Ambat and Rice for months together. Amma used to make an array of Ambat for lunch back home. For the non Konkanis, it is a preparation of lentils cooked with veggies or greens, blended with coconut and spice paste and concluded with varieties of tempering. We would have our lunch on banana leaves and the flavour that these leaves impart to any hot dish that is poured on them is unique. Having your meal on banana leaf is an art in itself and it is a hearty experience. Especially I never miss pouring ladles of Ambat on my banana leaf / plate and by just using my fingers pick the gravy and quickly suck it in with a distinguished ‘Srrrrrrrrr…..’ sound. Mmmm, this sure is the best part of my meal. In Konkani we call this act as ‘Burkuche’ and I sure am a Burkofying freak!
This particular ambat is made of a variety of Spinach called Malabar Spinach. It is called ‘VaaLi’ in Konkani and ‘Pui Shaag’ in Bengali. Pui Shaag has a respectable designation of its own in Bong cuisine as it is widely cooked with Bengal’s most sought after fish Hilsa. We never spotted Malabar Spinach anywhere after leaving Kolkata. Recently when one of my dad’s aunts visited us, she brought these for me. It had to be Ambat as my VaaLi deprived thirst had to be quenched.
Toor Dal – 1/2 cup
Malabar Spinach – 1 bunch
Salt to taste
Onion – 1 large, diced
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Oil – 2 tbsp
For the masala:
Coconut – ½ cup grated
Red chillies – 7-8
Tamarind – 1 marble sized ball
  1. Separate the spinach leaves, cut tender stem into 1” size pieces. Avoid using hard stems. Wash thoroughly.
  2. Grind red chillies, tamarind and coconut together.
  3. Pressure cook dal, spinach leaves, stem and diced onions along with salt for 2-3 whistles.
  4. Mix the ground masala along with cooked dal and add enough water to achieve desired consistency and let it boil for 10 mins. It should neither be runny nor too thick. (Adjust salt at this stage)
  5. Heat oil and add finely chopped onions. Let it brown on low flame. It will take time and its better done on low flame. Once onions start turning brown, pour the seasoning on cooked dal. Immediately cover and set aside.
  6. Serve with steamed rice.

Remember this Palak Pathrado I had posted sometime back? I had kept aside a couple of rolls and frozen it. After a couple of days, I simply removed them from the freezer, thawed, cut into thin pinwheels. (Cutting through was perhaps easy because they were frozen) Coat these pin wheels in semolina or rice flour and fry them. You could either deep fry or fry on a dosa griddle by sprinkling oil and turning them over to ensure both side are cooked well.

Methi Alu Parantha

Paranthas make for a filling and comforting meals. With a bowl of Curd and some pickle along their side, paranthas are very much relished by Abbas and I. My initial attempts at making them were super duper failures. As I would have the stuffing ooze out from all poosible nooks and corners of my paranthas. It would seem as though I was doing everything right but the outcome would turn out to be a disaster. In situations like these, marketing skills of Ma surface. She has the capability to promote anything under the sun but they never get sold. Even when it’s obvious that something is not good, she would sing praises to cover the loop holes. Coz she is a kind of person who can never speak ill about anyone in front of them (Behind their back is something else). I, on the other hand pass honest (at times, nasty) comments whether you like it or not. I know it’s not good always but I can’t help it. That’s the way I’m made!!!
There is this small outlet in my office cafeteria that has an open kitchen and sells paranthas. I would daily go there and order paranthas and watch them being made. They would make huge sized balls out of the dough, flatten them and place the stuffing, make pleats and cover the stuffing with the uncovered part of the dough. What I was doing wrong till then was I would make small balls and put lots of stuffing inside. Another thing I rectified was that I now saute the stuffing lighlty in a Kadai so that there is no moisture content in it. I have given a pictorial for people like me to overcome this parantha making barrier. Hope it helps!
For the dough:
Wheat flour
For the stuffing:
Fenugreek leaves – 1 cup (optional)
Onion – 1 medium finely chopped
Tomato kethcup – 1 tbsp
Potatoes – 2-3, boiled and mashed
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder – to taste
Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
1. Knead the wheat flour, salt and water together to make a soft but firm dough. Keep aside covered.
2. Heat oil in a pan. Add fenugreek leaves and saute till they turn crisp. Add onion and saute till they are transparent. Add tomato ketchup, all spice powders, salt and mashed potatoes. Keep stirring to combine well. The mixture must be dry and not watery.
3. Make a huge ball from the kneaded dough, flatten it digging the centre a bit. Place a ball of stuffing in the centre. Rest of the dough has to be pleated to cover the stuffing on top. Roll this ball in wheat flour and delicately roll it using a rolling pin. No need to apply pressure. Lightly rolling is sufficient.
4. Fry on a tawa applying oil on both sides. Make sure both sides are cooked well.
5. Serve hot with curd and pickle or with any curry of your choice.
Flattened ball with stuffing placed in the centre
Making pleats and covering the stuffing
Ball with stuffing secured inside
Delicately rolled
Roasted on a tawa

Palak Pathrado

Pathrado is one of the favourite sides on an Amchi platter. Having it along Rice and Dali Toy (Amchi Dal) is a heavenly experience for me and I believe for most Amchi population.
After marriage, I really missed this dish as I never saw Taro leaves in Kolkata. I couln’t even explain to my folks what it was as there are some varieties which are not edible. One day I googled Taro leaves for images and was showing Ma if she could identify it.  Sudden outburst from my kids’ nanny, Savitha at the sight of these leaves. “Didi, eigulo to kochu pata. Eigulo khao na ki?” (She could identify those and she wondered if we ate those?) I confidently (and proudly) announced, “Yes, we eat them. Do you know where these are available?” She said skeptically “There are so many near my home. I can get them for you. But… How …can you … eat …them?” Due to my persistence, she brought them for me and I jumped out of joy. I did not have a steamer with me then. So I made my Amma’s Phanna pathrado in pressure cooker. We had unexpected guests that day during lunch time. They too got to taste these and were stunned that something so delicious could be made out of Taro leaves! And Savitha would bring Taro leaves whenever she found fresh ones coz she too was hooked on to the taste!
Well, that was about Kolkata. Ever since we moved out of Kolkata, I never got to eat Pathrado. Never found Taro leaves in Chennai or in Bangalore. Had bumped into Divya’s Palak Pathrado some time back. Made those to subside my Pathrado craving. I must say they were yummy to the core. Didn’t miss Taro leaves at all. And the best part is that there is no fear of throat itching that occurs as after effect with some Taro leaves. The masala that I use is a bit different from Divya’s though. (I also drizzled drops of mustard oil instead of coconut oil to see if Abbas would like it. But as usual he didn’t like it. God Bless the Pathrado deprived soul!)
Spinach leaves – 1 bunch
Rice flour – 2 tbsp (add little more if the masala turns runny)
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
For the Masala:
Grated coconut – 2/3 cup
Red chillies – 7-8 or as per spice tolerance
Tamarind – 1 small marble sized ball
Fenugreek seeds – a pinch
Turmeric poweder – ¼ tsp
Hing / Asafoetida – a pinch
Salt to taste
  1. Wash the spinach leaves well and keep aside.
  2. Grind together the ingredients called out in the ‘For the Masala’ section with a little water. Add rice flour and mix. The masala must have spreadable consistency. If it is too runny, add little more rice flour.
  3. Take the biggest spinach leaves of the lot and place separately on a platform. Smear the masala over them. Place next smaller sized leaves over them and repeat the process of layering for about 6-8 times atleast. Roll gently and secure the rolls by tying them with a thread.
  4. Steam in an idli steamer for about 20-25 minutes or till well cooked.
  5. Serve hot right out of steamer with coconut oil drizzled on top. (And ofcourse do not forget to remove the thread tied around the Pathrados before serving.)
This recipe goes out to Bookmarked Recipes Every Tuesday hosted by Priya and Aipi.

Spinach / Palak – 1 big  bundle or 3 small bundles, clean and wash thoroughly

Paneer – 200 g

Green chillies – 3
Cloves – 3or 4
Onion – 2 medium size , chopped
Ginger – 1″ piece, chopped
Garlic cloves – 4-5, mashed or ground (Garlic paste 1 tbsp)
Tomato – 1 medium sized, chopped
Salt to taste
Oil – 3 tbsp
1. Pressure cook spinach with green chillies, cloves, half of the chopped onions, ginger. Cool and grind this in to paste.

2. Heat oil in a pan.Fry chopped onion, garlic or garlic paste and tomato and saute till it becomes mushy.

3. Add the ground spinach paste, salt and stir for a while adding little water according to ur consistency.
4. Add the paneer cubes and mix. Serve hot with rotis.