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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mixed Vegetables in Spinach-Poppy Seeds Gravy

I had my Eureka moment a couple of days ago, when we decided to have Pooris and the usual culprits (Kabuli Chana or Potatoes) were not present in sufficient quantity. Bored out of my shoes, I decided to make mixed vegetables in  green gravy, and ended up adding ingredients I had no intentions of adding and worse yet, had no idea how the combination will end up tasting. The result was a subdued and rich side-dish with many interesting taste-layers.

Mixed Vegetables in Spinach-Poppy Seeds gravy


Preparation Time:

40 Minutes



Ingredients:

  1. Carrot: 1

  2. Potato: 1 Medium sized

  3. Beans: 8-10 Medium sized

  4. Capsicum: 1 Medium Sized

  5. Peas:  a handful.

  6. Spinach (Palak): Half a bunch.

  7. Tomato:1

  8. Onions: 2

  9. Green Chillies: 2

  10. Ginger: 1"

  11. Poppy Seeds(Khus-Khus) – 2 tsp

  12. Cashew Nuts: 5-7

  13. Corn Flour: 1 tsp mixed in water.


Methodology:

  1. Cut the carrot and beans into long stripes. Cut the potato and capsicum into cubes (and squares).

  2. Blanch the Spinach leaves. Immerse them in cold water immediately, and grind them with tomato when cooled.

  3. Use the same water to boil carrot, beans, potato and peas. Add about ½ tsp salt to this water. Take the vegetables out after about 5 minutes on high flame and about 5-10 minutes on low flame. When in doubt, always take them out when they look half-cooked.

  4. Needless to say, the residual water makes for a great soup.

  5. Grind the Onions, Green Chillies and ginger into a smooth paste.

  6. Heat some oil in a pan. Add  Mustard seeds.

  7. When they cackle, add the onion paste and stir for a while.

  8. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder and coriander powder.

  9. Add the tomato-spinach paste and the vegetables,  and keep stirring in medium flame.

  10. Meanwhile, dry roast poppy seeds and cashew nuts till they turn a bit brownish. Grind them together.

  11. Add them to the pan and mix well.

  12. For a thicker and uniform consistency, add the corn-flour-water mix. Add about half a teaspoon of sugar to bring the flavors together.

  13. Garnish with Coriander leaves and serve.


Notes:

  • The dry roasting of poppy seeds and cashewnuts is done to ensure a smooth paste. Poppy seeds are surprisingly difficult to grind. If you have any other ideas on how to make the paste smooth and consistent, let me know.

Palak Methi Chaman

Palak-Methi Chaman
 Palak(Spinach) and Methi(Fenugreek) are two of my favourite leafy vegetables. Though we Indians usually kill them by over-boiling or over-frying, if done right, the dish can not only taste and smell good,the refreshing green look is a treat for starved eyes.

Starved we have been – with the partner contracting Jaundice, and the cooking options becoming severely stunted. However, it took me the better part of two months to realise that tasty need not necessarily mean unhealthy. So, armed with a couple of leafy vegetables and a twist to the original Tarla Dalal’s Palak Methi Chaman recipe, this dish originated and turned out to be lip-smacking.

Preparation Time:

35 Minutes

Ingredients:

  1. Palak (Spinach) - Half a bunch

  2. Methi (Fenugreek Leaves) - Half a Bunch

  3. Potato - 2

  4. Peas - 1 Cup

  5. Cumin Seeds - 1.5 Tsp

  6. Asafoetida - a pinch

  7. Ginger - about 2"

  8. Green Chillies - 2

  9. Turmeric Powder - 1/2 Tsp

  10. Chilli Powder - 1/2 Tsp

  11. Coriander Cumin Seed Powder - 1 Tsp

  12. Garam Masala - 1 Tsp

  13. Corn Flour - 1 Tsp

  14. Milk - 1 Cup

  15. Sugar - 1/2 Tsp

  16. Salt - as Required

  17. Olive Oil - About 2 Tsp


Methodology:

  1. Grind the ginger and green chillies together to form a paste.

  2. Mix the Corn Flour with water to form a thin paste.

  3. Wash both the leaves thoroughly and blanch them together.

  4. Drain and keep the water aside.

  5. After cooling, grind the leaves into a smooth paste.

  6. Meanwhile, shell the peas and cut the potato into medium size cubes. Boil them with about ¼ tsp of salt and minimal water.

  7. Heat the oil in a pan. After a minute, add cumin seeds. When they start to cackle, add asafoetida and the ginger-green chilly paste.

  8. Add turmeric powder, red chilly powder, Coriander-Cumin Seeds Powder, Garam Masala, Salt and Mix well.

  9. Add the Methi-Palak  (Fenugreek-Spinach) Paste, and the boiled potatoes and Peas.

  10. When the gravy starts boiling, add corn flour-milk  solution and stir till the gravy thickens. Add Sugar and stir on low flame for about two minutes.

  11. Garnish with Coriander leaves and serve.


Notes:

  • Corn flour, a recent discovery for me, is a boon for gravies. The consistency it gives is perfectly appetizing. More importantly, there is no change in taste (unlike rice powder).

  • The residual water of blanching the greens can either be used while making the gravy or can be made into a simple soup by adding salt and pepper. (I did the latter. It tasted great!).

  • Blanching involves boiling the leafy vegetables for about 5 minutes on high flame and about a minute or two (tops) on low flame. Anything more and the leaves will turn soggy and lose the color.