Recipes: Methi Palak Dal

I’ve blogged about dals many times previously and here’s another one today. I had some fresh methi leaves and so instead of making it into a sabzi or kneading it into a dough for methi parathas, I thought of adding it to a dal with some fresh spinach. The result was a super yummy dal that kept well even when we had it the next day.

Methi and Palak Dal

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of fresh methi or fenugreek leaves, plucked, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh palak or spinach, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 cup yellow moong dal, washed and soaked in water for 15-20 minutes
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp green chilli paste or 1 tbsp finely chopped green chillies
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp jaggery (optional)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Soak the chopped spinach and methi in some water so that any dirt gets to the bottom. Wash it well and keep it aside.
  • In a pressure cooker, heat the ghee and oil and when warm, add the cumin seeds. Let the seeds pop and then add the garlic and saute for a few seconds.
  • Then add the minced garlic and saute for a few seconds.
  • Now add the finely chopped onions and saute till the onions turn translucent.
  • When the onions are translucent, add the finely chopped tomatoes and some salt and let the onions cook.
  • When the tomatoes start to turn mushy and are fully cooked, add in the chopped greens and saute till the greens start to wilt.
  • At this point, add in the soaked dal and add salt, jaggery, red chilli powder, coriander powder and garam masala.
  • Add in water to cover the dal, close the cooker and cook it for three whistles. If you are cooking on a stovetop, cook until the dal is completely cooked and the dal is completely dissolved.
  • Open the pressure cooker and mash the dal and greens together and switch on the flame again
  • Adjust seasonings and add water to bring it to the consistency you desire and when you are satisfied with the taste and consistency, switch off the flame and add the lemon juice.
  • Serve hot with rice or rotis or any Indian flatbread.

Recipes: Spinach Mint Rice

During the lockdown, I was experimenting with food and one day found a small bunch of spinach and another small bunch of mint lying in the fridge. I usually make a chutney with the mint, but I didn’t have enough coriander leaves to make my usual chutney, so thought of combining the two. I used my Spinach Rice recipe as the basis of this one and it turned out super yummy! When the rice was cooking, the whole house was enveloped with this pleasant mint aroma and while eating this dish, I was eating with more than just my mouth! And the best part about this recipe is that it is a one pot meal dish. This is a great addition to a lunchbox and both GG & BB have asked me to add this to their lunch boxes.

Spinach Mint Rice

Ingredients:
• 2 cups basmati rice
• 1 bunch spinach
• 1 bunch mint with the leaves plucked
• 2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
• 10-15 curry leaves
• 1 medium sized onion, chopped roughly
• 1 bulb garlic, peeled
• inch piece of ginger, peeled
• 5-6 green chillies
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 10-12 pieces of cashewnuts, chopped into half
• 2 tbsp oil or ghee
• Salt to taste

Method:
Soak the rice in water for 20-30 minutes and then wash it thoroughly, drain and keep aside.
• Take some water in a large pan and boil it. While the water is boiling, wash the spinach leaves thoroughly and keep aside.
• Wash the mint, curry and coriander leaves and keep aside.
• Blanch the spinach leaves, a few at a time for around 10-15 seconds in the boiling water and remove and keep aside.
• In a blender, blend together the spinach, mint leaves, coriander leaves, curry leaves, garlic, ginger, green chillies and onion into a smooth paste. Keep aside.
• Heat the ghee in a pan and when it warms up, add the cashewnuts and fry until they are brown and nicely toasted. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
• In the same pan, with the remaining ghee, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
• Then add the blended paste and some salt and let the paste cook for around 5 minutes. The paste should start thickening and at this point add the rice.
• Mix the rice well into the spinach mint paste and once each grain of rice is coated with the paste, remove it to a rice cooker and add the water needed to cook the rice. Cook until it is done and then let it sit for 10 minutes before opening the rice cooker. Fluff it with a fork and add the fried cashewnuts.
• If you are cooking in a pan, when the rice is coated with the paste, add the water and let it cook until the rice is done. Switch off the gas and let it sit for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork and then garnishing with the cashewnuts.
• Serve hot with a raita and some chips. I served this with an onion pineapple raita. This raita is very simple. Beat some yoghurt in a bowl and add salt and pepper to it. Then add some finely chopped onions, finely chopped pineapples (either fresh or from a tin) and some finely chopped coriander leaves. Taste for seasoning and serve. For the chips, I fried some traditional vadam.
• Vadam is traditionally made by drying a paste made of rice and other ingredients in the sun until all the water is leeched out. Then during days when vegetables are in short supply, you fry these in hot oil and use them as an accompaniment to any rice dish.

Keerai Sambar or Spinach Sambar

Everyone knows how healthy spinach is. A low calorie vegetable, the spinach is consiidered a superfood and green vegetables like the spinach are very good for skin, hair and bone health. Spinach is a great source of iron and one cup of raw spinach contains as much as 0.81 gm of iron. Spinach is low in carbs but high in insoluble fiber. Spinach also packs high amounts of carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium.

I usually make Spinach Dal, Mor Keerai or even Spinach Rice, but never really tried trying spinach as a sambar. Earlier this week, when making lunch where the other dishes were south Indian, I decided to make spinach sambar as opposed to a dal which was what the children were asking for just so all the dishes were south Indian. The resultant sambar was super yum and it even cooked faster than the usual sambar.

Spinach or Keerai Sambar

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spinach, washed and chopped roughly
  • 2 medium sized onions, chopped into big pieces
  • 1 gooseberry size tamarind, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes
  • 1 cup toor dar, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp jaggery
  • 2 tsp sambar powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil

Method:

  • Cook the toor dal in a pressure cooker or on the stove top till it is cooked and mushy. Beat it well till it becomes a homogenous mass, adding water if it is too thick. Keep aside.
  • Mash and seive the soaked tamarind and thin it till it is at the sourness you like. Keep aside.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and when warm, add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Then add the asafoetida and stir for a few seconds.
  • Now add the chopped onions and stir until they are translucent.
  • When the onions are translucent and soft, add the chopped spinach and let them wilt.
  • When the spinach is wilted, add in the prepared tamarind water and then add the salt, sambar powder and jaggery and let it cook for around 5-7 minutes.
  • When the spinach and onions and completely cooked and the raw smell of tamarind goes away, add the cooked dal to the sambar.
  • Check for seasoning and add what needs to be added. Let the sambar cook for another five minutes and then switch off the flame.
  • Serve hot with a south Indian meal of rice and a stir fry curry.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have access to tamarind pulp, you can also buy tamarind paste which you should get in any Indian store. Use 1-2 tsp (as per your taste)
  • Instead of spinach, you can use any greens for this recipe

Recipes: Palak Paneer

I had been craving for some Palak Paneer for a few weeks now when I chanced upon this recipe on Facebook from Chef Sanjyot Keer of Your Food Lab. The recipe was intriguing enough to tempt me and when I chanced upon some spinach over the weekend, I knew it was time to try this recipe. This is very different from the usual recipe that I make which is inspired by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe which is very simple. This one is slightly more complicated, but was super delicious and was a hit at home!

Palak Paneer

Ingredients:

  • 2 big bunches spinach or palak, chopped
  • 1 big cup frozen paneer (soaked in hot water for 30 minutes)
  • 1 big pod of garlic, grated or chopped finely
  • 1 large onion, cut in half and then sliced vertically
  • 4-5 green chillies
  • 1 bunch of coriander leaves
  • 1/2 cup beaten yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp black or pink salt
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  • Take a large pan and boil water in it. When the water is boiling, blanch the spinach in it for 2-3 minutes and remove. Soak it in a large bowl of iced water for a  few minutes before removing and draining the water. This preserves the lovely green colour of the spinach.
  • When the spinach is cool, blend it with the green chillies and coriander leaves into a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • In another pan, heat the ghee and when warm, add the cumin seeds and let it splutter.
  • Then add the chopped or grated garlic and let it saute for a few minutes.
  • Next, add the sliced onions and let the onions slightly brown.
  • When the onions start to brown, add the cumin powder, turmeric powder and red chilli powder and mix well. Then add the black or pink salt and season with salt.
  • Now add the beaten yoghurt and mix well. Let the masala cook well and the ghee start to leave the sides of the pan.
  • Then add the spinach puree and let the palak cook well. When the spinach starts to bubble, add the paneer pieces and let it cook for a few more minutes.
  • Now gently sprinkle the wholewheat flour a bit by bit and let it get absorbed into the gravy. This is to thicken the gravy.
  • Lastly, sprinkle the garam masala and the lemon juice and switch off the gas. Serve hot with Indian flatbreads or jeera rice.
  • You can also add fresh cream as the last step before adding the garam masala and the lemon juice as well as a  garnish. I didn’t have cream at home and omitted this step.

 

Recipes: Spinach Rice

I love one pot meals. The chance to have a complete meal without getting many dishes and pots and pans dirty is great! The children love spinach and have been asking me to make spinach rice for a while now. So I decided to make it last week. This is slightly different from the way I usually make it, so thought to document it here.

Spinach Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup spinach, washed and chopped
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 4-5 pods of garlic
  • 1-1.5 inch ginger
  • 1 large or 2 medium-sized onions
  • 1 medium-sized green capsicum
  • 4-6 green chillies (depending on the size and your spice tolerance)
  • 1 bunch of coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 4-5 pieces of clove
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 2-3 cashew nuts
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Wash the spinach thoroughly and keep aside.
  • Wash the basmati rice well, soak it in water for 20-30 minutes and then drain and keep aside.
  • In a dry skillet, dry roast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon till they are done and emit and nice aroma. Keep aside to cool.
  • Soak the cashew nuts in warm water or milk for 10 minutes to soften it up.
  • Chop the onion, green capsicum, green chillies, ginger and garlic and keep aside.
  • In a blender blend everything – the spinach, green capsicum, green chillies, coriander, onion, ginger, garlic, cashew nuts and spices to a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • Heat a pan with the ghee and when the ghee warms up, add the bay leaf and stir for a couple of seconds.
  • Then add the spinach paste and stir well. Season with salt and let it cook well, making sure it is still a vibrant green colour.
  • Take the washed and drained rice and add to this paste. Transfer to a rice cooker and cook with 3/4 cup (or as you need for your rice) of water. Once cooked, let it sit for a while before you take it out of the cooker.
  • Serve hot with some crisps and a raita of your choice.

Notes:

  • If you are cooking in your stovetop when you add the rice to the spinach paste, let it mix for a minute, then add the water and any seasoning you want and cook covered on a low to medium flame till done. Let it sit for a while before opening the cover.
  • You can also make the paste in advance and store it in the fridge or freeze it. When you want to make the rice the next day, just add it to the rice in the rice cooker or on the stovetop and continue as above.
  • I didn’t have any coriander with me but had Green Chutney at home. So I substituted coriander with a couple of tbsps of this Chutney.