The weekend was hectic. I made mushroom pizza for Saturday lunch. Dad was in town on Saturday and i cooked him some dinner. I made him some plain Naan and served it with chicken curry. And later made myself some masala Naan that i had with the potato curry leftover from here. And since i also wanted to give him something special to take home to mom, i baked this cake again earlier in the day and packed it for him. On sunday, we went to a housewarming get-together and i got to eat my favourite Hyderabadi Biryani for lunch there. The recipes for the new stuff i cooked on the weekend will have to wait, because i have decided that i will first tell you more about what i cooked for lunch today.
You may remember from my last blog post that i am on a quest for English names of the local vegetables. That quest continues into today's post. And i found that what the Telugus call Bachali kura is called Malabar Spinach or Phooi leaf and has a more technical sounding name of Basella Alba. (Sorry for the digression, but i can't help thinking about Jessica Alba here.) This leafy vegetable contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron and Calcium, is low in calories and is a rich source of soluble fiber. Do we need anymore excuses to eat Malabar Spinach and lots of it? So i cooked it with split pigeon peas and served it with rice for lunch today. Here's how you can make it your next meal.
- Malabar Spinach - 4 small bunches (makes 2 cups when chopped)
- 3/4 Cup Split pigeon peas/ Kandi Pappu/ Tur dal
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- pinch of turmeric
- 6-8 small cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 green chilies
- 2-3 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
- salt to taste
- red chili powder to taste
Rinse the pigeon peas and soak in 1 1/2 cups water for at least half an hour, up to 1 hour. Roughly chop the Malabar spinach and add it on top of the soaked lentils. Pressure cook them together for 3 whistles. Take it out of the pressure cooker once cooled and coarsely mash it. Heat the oil in a saucepan or kadai on medium flame. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and turn the flame to low. Once the mustard seeds stop spluttering too much, add the turmeric, garlic, chopped green chilies and curry leaves. Fry for a minute and add the cooked lentils and Malabar spinach mixture.
Add the tamarind paste (alternately, you can soak a small lime size ball of seedless tamarind in half a cup of warm water. Strain the juice and add to the curry, discard the pulp.) Allow to cook on medium flame for 2 minutes. Season with salt and additional red chili powder if you want more spice. Remove from flame and serve as a soup or as a side dish with plain cooked rice.
You can add up to half cup of water based on what consistency you want your curry to be. When you are serving this as a curry with rice, make sure the curry tastes slightly salty when seasoning it. Otherwise it will taste bland when mixed with plain rice. I also like to add a sprinkling of Sambar powder at the end to give the curry a delicious aroma.