Eat Your Greens
As with all mothers, this over familiar phrase is a well travelled piece of wisdom (or penance) dispensed across the kitchen table to reluctant knee high diners. But earthy verdant vegetables held no appeal for Dad and his siblings, it either had to be meaty or sticky and sweet. Crouching over a small stack of coins they’d club together the well worn rupees with their gnarled edges mouthing out the amounts. The tension hung heavy over whether they had enough money to buy the neon orange syrupy jalebi, the sisters anticipated the result as they examined their brothers’ faces which either erupted into wide grins or despondent eyes. My father reflects, ‘probably a good thing, we lacked funds otherwise I’d have teeth the colour of molasses’.
With six mouths to feed, Dad’s childhood meals were sometimes thrifty yet always nutritious, vegetarian dishes featured regularly. This vegetarian curry recipe has been customised by Dad to harness iron packed nutrition with a canon of spices prepared quickly and simply. As you munch on the deep green leaves of spinach and mustard your mouth will applaud your choice. Your body will regard you as divine. You’ll crave just one more morsel of this spinach curry dish - be careful though you could be on your way to becoming a ‘greens’ junkie.
Serves 4 four eat with flatbread
- 1 Big armful of fresh saag (mustard) leaves, washed carefully, chopped roughly
- 1 Big armful of fresh palak (spinach) leaves, washed carefully, chopped roughly
The secret to this dish is to prepare a delicious Tarka and then add this to the cooked mustard and spinach leaves. You can do this whilst the greens are cooking.
After washing the leaves really thoroughly, ridding them of their soil and any other companions they’ve picked up their journey, pat them dry and pick off the stalks and discard them. You’ll be left with a hillock of foliage, chop it roughly. In a large pan, on a low heat add the leaves, handful by handful stirring them until they wilt a little and release their water. Throw in a generous pinch of salt and keep agitating until the veg has dried a little and taken on a British Racing Green tone. Don’t let it turn to mush. Now add the Tarka and rouse the ingredients for 1 minute until they’ve combined and acquainted each other.
VP’s Simple Tarka
Victor’s Tarka for this dish is speedy and takes little preparation, yet the result is one which left me marvelling at its minimalism. The ingredients are humble but manage to charm the spinach and mustard leaves to yield more of their flavour.
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped into small chunks
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 long green chilli
- 2 inches of fresh root ginger, chopped
- ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
Heat the frying pan on a medium heat and add the oil. When hot, pop in the onion and garlic allowing them to brown and crispen at the edges. Add the ginger, chilli and mustard seeds and turn up the heat a little, until the seeds jig and hop in the pan. Fry for a further 3/4 minutes until the ginger has softened and the chilli has turned from green to a dullish brown and then take off the heat and leave to cool.
A recipe from the Urban Rajah's Curry Memoirs cookbook. Due for release in Spring 2013, from Headline Publishing.