Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Spinach with mixed vegetables

Am very very overdue on my blogging...I was away on a short but very happy trip to Kolkata. 9 days, where I did all the things one does going back to one's home turf. But really, food reigned supreme. Consuming food that is. I got Ma, R and our cook to make all the stuff that a) missed b) couldn't cook as wonderfully as they can. So here is the recipe for one of them: Palong sager ghanto. Or Spinach with mixed vegetables. This is not a new recipe. There are variations to it. My recipe is the way we eat at "chez parents" in Calcutta. Its wonderful. More than that actually. Comfort food.

(Unlike the common perception that Indian cooking is very spicy...a lot of bengali recipes do not involve many spices. Spices are added to enhance the subtle flavors of the ingredients. Not over power it). This is a classic example. The vegetables, fresher the better combine to give a delightful flavour.

Spinach with mixed vegetables
You will need:

1 kilo spinach
2 medium potatoes cubed (not too small)
2 beet
5 or 6 broad beans halved
handful of peas (a handful after shelling)
2 or 3 carrots
1 medium eggplant / brinjal cubed
1 tsp five spice (made of equal parts of cumin seeds, black cumin seeds -- also called nigella, fenugreek seed, aniseed and black mustard grains)

This recipe can be cooked using a few or all of the above veggies, with spinach. More the better.

How to:
1. Wash, de-stem and chop the spinach well. You can de-stem and wash if you prefer. Either way works.

2. Cut all the veggies into cubes...not too small or large. Important thing is to have the veggie in more or less similar sized cubes.

3. Heat oil (3 tbsp) in a pan. Kadai or wok is better than a flat pan.

4. Add one red dried chillie. Then add the five spice (panch-phoron).

5. When they start crackling /popping /sizzling, add the veggies. Stir well and cover. Lower flame and let the veggies cook. You can sprinkle a little water. I really mean sprinkle. Using your fingers.

6. When the veggies are softened, but not soggy, add the spinach. Since spinach is when raw, voluminous, put a little bit a time. Mix with veggie and wait for it to subside a bit, which happens more or less within half a minute or so, and repeat till all the spinach is in the pan.

7. Season with salt. We also like to add a little bit of sugar. Fraction of the quantity of salt. The idea here is not to make the dish sweet, this salt-sugar combo somehow, enhances the flavour more than only salt.

8. K, our cook, sometimes, adds half tsp each of coriander powder, cumin powder, chillie powder and turmeric. But she told me, turmeric alone is OK. Chillie powder is really optional, as is green chillie.

9. Cover and keep on low flame. The spinach is cooked usually in about 5 to 10 minutes max. Stir vigorously so that the veggies don't stick to the pan and they are well mixed with the spinach. some people like to leave a little bit of gravy. I like mine without. The dish is not dry. The veggies are soft and puply.

10. Each of the veggies contribute their individual flavours and together combine to make this dish, well, comforting, at the least!! Serve with rice and dal. Bon appetit!


vkn said...

So glad to see you back Sukanya. Wow, I like all the greens cooked in all the forms :-) A must-try very soon. Cheers! Happy holidays.

sailu said...

Healthy and comforting veggie dish with greens,Sukanya.I would go with the green chilli flavour instead on chilli pwd..thanks for sharing..:)
Wishing you and your family a wonderful New Year!

Sukanya M said...

Sailu, VKN...many thanks for the wishes...and Vkn, please do let me know if I am overcooking some veggies. I dont really keep an eye on the clock while cooking...and so if ever you think that I hvnt given the correct time or quantities, do let me know. It wld be a grt help!

Best wishes for a happy new year!