I am not sure when this happened, but from a stereotypical 'greens' hating kid, I became a person who loves having a leafy vegetable as part of my meal. As a kid I gave my mother a tough time finishing up the keerai dish. I don't think I even bothered to savor the taste, if it was green, I had to hate it, simple :D But that never effected the frequency or variety of greens that my mom used. We had a keerai lady who would come by nearly every other morning, selling fresh greens. She would have this huge round basket on her head, filled with a minimum of 6-7 varieties of greens and one of us would have to help her lower it down. If she had a rarely found variety, she was sure to market it the right way and leave us with more greens than we needed. Apart from the usual suspects - coriander, mint and spinach, she would have a variety of thotakura (amaranth), menthi kura, ponnaganti keera (water amaranth) and many others that I've forgotten! When it was exam time she was a lot more tough on us & there was no escaping her. But having someone come to your doorstep and sell you fresh greens on a daily basis is a luxury now.
Spinach is what I use the most, and because it was the only familiar one in the grocery store aisles here. But gradually I started trying out the other ones on the shelf. Cooking the new greens in a familiar Indian recipe is the safest way to introduce it. Collard greens & Kale take a little longer to cook, but can be used in simple stir fry's and substituted for other greens in most recipes. I add greens to soups, upmas, rice, dals, sambar, majjiga pulusu and even puffs. Mustard greens have a slightly stronger taste, and are a nice change from the usual. Swiss chard, with its choice of colors is fun to use and cooks in a jiffy.
So how about some green therapy for St. Patricks day ? Here's Swiss chard kura and green peas chapathi
Simple ingredients => flavorful dishes, proved yet again. The delicate flavor of the chard isn't lost in the cooking process and is only complimented by the coconut. I ate half the stir fry right from the pan, it was that good. My usual spinach stir fry has red chillies and garlic in the tadka/poppu. They have a strong flavor and are more suited to heartier greens like spinach, collard greens and kale. The chapathi's were soft and look good with speckles of green running all through them. The peas though, do not contribute much flavor-wise, but it was just another way to include a veggie into my meal.Swiss chard kura/stir fryIngredients:
(serves two as a side)
- 1 bunch - Swiss chard, washed
- 1/4 tsp - Mustard seeds/aavaalu
- 1/4 tsp - Cumin seeds/jeera
- 1/4 tsp - Turmeric powder
- pinch of Asafoetida
- 3 nos - Green chillies (each chilli was hardly an inch long)
- 2 Tbsp - grated Coconut
- Salt to taste
- 2 tsp - Oil ( I used olive oil)
- Wash the Swiss chard thoroughly and remove to thick rib running through the center of each leaf. The thinner portions closer to the tip of the leaf can be retained. Roll up the leaves and roughly slice them into strips.
- Heat oil in a wok/wide skillet. When hot, splutter the mustard and cumin seeds. Add the turmeric, asafoetida and the chopped greens. Cover with a lid and cook and medium-low heat for 5-7 mins.
- In the meantime, finely mince the green chillies, and thaw the grated coconut if using frozen. When greens looks wilted, add the chillies and coconut and cook for a few more minutes allowing the flavors to meld.
- Finally season with salt and serve warm with chapathi's or rice.
For the peas paratha, I microwaved about half a cup of frozen green peas with a finely minced green chilli and salt for 2 mins. Cover and let it sit for a few more minutes. Mash it up with a fork and add 2 Tbsp of low-fat sour cream when cooled. You could also make a fine paste by using a blender, I was just too lazy. I added this to 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat atta, with a little more salt and 1/4 cup warm water. Knead it well until an impression of a finger pressed into the dough, holds for a second and slowly bounces back. Let the dough rest for about 30 mins before making the chapatis. This dough was softer than my usual dough and so were the chapathi's. I got about 10 chapathi's from this.
A cup of the stir fry along with a chapati, yogurt and an orange (aren't they at their juiciest best these days) was my dinner last night, what was yours ? Happy St.Patrick's!