Spinach with Broad Beans,Brinjal, Potato,Peas &Vadi(Aloo,Begun,Bodhi,Motor,Sheem Diye Palong Shaak)
SPINACH is a leafy green vegetable growing in Western and Central Asia. Since it is low in cholesterol with negligible fat, it is considered to be a nutritious vegetable. Consisting of Vitamin A, C and K along with Calcium, Potassium and dietary fiber, it is a good idea to include it in your winter diet. My younger son, who does not venture anywhere near vegetables, though loves his Spinach in the form of 'Palak Paneer' (Will take you through the steps for this on another fine day).
When my good old friend Grace Kapoor(before she comes chasing after me for calling her old, let me quickly clarify that the girl isn't old at all but as a friend she is... as in she is an old friend), turned to farming using the natural methods and sent me some super fresh and pesticide - free produce, my heart leapt with joy*. I just had to cook this recipe from my Father's village in Rampur now in the erstwhile Dhaka district of Bangladesh, of a first course from a Bengali meal .
*To order directly from her farm fresh produce in Mumbai, which is one hundred per cent pesticide free, Whatsapp on +91 8356913706
Presenting here Spinach or Palak or Palong Shaak with Brinjal, Broad Beans, Potato and Vadi.
Serves : 4(This is normally served as a first course in a Bengali sit-down meal)
Preparation Time : 30 minutes Cooking Time : 30 minutes Accompaniment : Steamed Rice(normally, but it can be eaten along with rotis as well)
Spinach(Palak/Palong Shaak)-1 bundle(250-300gms)
Broad Beans(Papdi/Sheem) - 10 to 12 pieces(cut into halves)
Brinjal/Eggplant(Baingan/Begun) - 150gms(cut into one inch chunks)
Potato (Aloo) - One Big (Peeled and cut into one inch chunks)
Green Chillies - 4 whole
Vadi(Bodi) - (Soaked and ground Dal mixture is placed under the sun in small lumps, which when dried can be stored for a longer period and used bit by bit) - 10 pieces
Paanch-phoron(mixture of 5 spices like cumin seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds, aniseed and mustard seed) - one big pinch
Mustard oil - 75ml
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Cumin Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Sugar - 1 pinch(optional)
While cleaning the bundle of spinach discard any leaves which have numerous holes in them or are discolored.
Chop all the spinach leaves into half inch sized pieces. The quicker way to cut through the spinach leaves is to bunch them in your left fist and chop them with a knife with your oft used hand, in my case this is the right. Do be careful while working with the knife.
Soak the chopped spinach leaves into a large container filled with water for at least half an hour. This will help wash away most of the impurities present on the spinach leaves(if any) and the dust or mud particles being heavier will sink to the bottom and settle.
After half an hour, scoop up the soaked spinach leaves and in order to drain them from the water, put them in a colander. (In case the leaves and/or stalks were muddy or a bit dirty when you bought them home, a good practice will be to at least change the water thrice and rinse the leaves thoroughly, repeating the process of scooping and straining in the colander. While scooping the chopped leaves from the water, you may notice some mud or dirt particles at the bottom on the water. Be very careful while picking out the last few pieces of spinach, without disturbing the sediment too much, otherwise you may end up with bit and pieces of grit in your Saag Preparation.
Wash and keep aside the cut pieces of potato, broad beans, brinjal and peas separately.
In a non-stick kadhai, pour the mustard oil.
When the oil is slightly hot, add the Vadis and fry them gently by turning them around so that each side turns golden yellow uniformly. Drain them from the kadhai and keep aside.
Add the Paanch - phoron to the kadhai as tempering.
After the Paanch - phoron changes colour into a darker shade and gives out its aroma, gently drop in the diced and washed potato pieces. Sprinkle a little salt over them and cover with a lid and fry for a while, turning them on all sides.
Add the pieces of broad beans with an individual sprinkling of salt when the potato pieces are semi-fried.
Then add the brinjal pieces after a few more minutes and sprinkle some salt individually on only the brinjal pieces.
After a few more minutes, after you have periodically stirred the vegetable pieces and they are all semi-fried, sprinkle the turmeric powder, evenly over all the vegetables.
Then stir all the ingredients once and uniformly sprinkle the cumin powder.
After the vegetables look nicely fried add the chopped spinach leaves into the kadhai with another small sprinkling of salt and the green chilies. Cover with a lid and keep the gas on sim.
After 5-7 minutes when you open the lid, you will notice a lot of water in the kadhai, even though we have not added a single drop of water. This is the water released from the wilting spinach leaves, which actually comprise of almost 90 percent water. So using the ladle, mix all the spinach and vegetable pieces. Add the fried pieces of vadi.
Cover the kadhai with its lid and keep a close tab on the kadhai.
At frequent intervals of 3-4 minutes, as you keep stirring, you will notice that the Saag looks well done and most of the water has started evaporating. Now do not cover with lid.
Once all the ingredients in the kadhai are cooked nicely and the vadi has turned soft, sprinkle a little bit of rice/wheat flour. This will soak up all the remaining water and make the Saag all come together nicely.
Check the salt seasoning and if you wish you may sprinkle a pinch of sugar and then mix well and turn off the gas.
To be served as a first course with plain rice.