March 31, 2014

Sindhi Greens

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Sindhis, an ethnic group native to Pakistan, express their love of leafy greens with this
curry, called Sai Bhaji. Spinach and methi (fresh fenugreek) are cooked in a spicy vegetable paste, and fortified with channa dal (split chickpeas) and potato. Served steaming hot over brown rice, this makes a wonderful vegan meal.

        A hearty vegan curry. Credit: Susan Sampson


3-1/4 cups (800 mL) water, divided
1/4 cup (60 mL) channa dal, rinsed
6 cloves garlic
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut in chunks
1 piece ginger (2 inches/5 cm), peeled, sliced
2 tbsp (30 mL) coconut or canola oil
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin seeds
1 each: large diced onion, shredded medium carrot
2 tsp (10 mL) or more kosher salt
1 tsp (5 mL) each: chili flakes, ground coriander
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground turmeric
2 small tomatoes, cored, grated
1 bunch methi (8 oz/250 g), stemmed
4 oz (125 g) chopped spinach leaves (3 cups/750 mL)
1 large yellow-flesh potato (8 oz/250 g), peeled, cubed (1/2 inch/1 cm)
1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped cilantro

In small pan, heat 2 cups (500 mL) water and channa dal on high. When water comes to boil, reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 40 minutes, or until falling apart.

Meanwhile, in mini food processor, purée garlic, jalapeño and ginger with 1/4 cup (60 mL) water.

In large pan, heat oil on medium until shimmery. Stir in cumin seeds 10 seconds, or until they pop. (Do not brown.) Add onion, carrot and 1 tsp (5 mL) salt. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes, or until golden. Stir in chili flakes, coriander and turmeric. Stir in garlic mixture. Cook, stirring often, 1 to 2 minutes, until liquid evaporates. Add tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes, until mixture thickens and oil separates out at edges. Add channa dal (with cooking liquid), potato, 1 tsp (5 mL) salt, methi and spinach. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, until greens wilt. Add remaining 1 cup (500 mL) water. When water comes to boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 30 minutes, or until potato is tender.

Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro. Adjust salt.

Makes 4 cups (1 L).

  • If you are not a vegan, add a cooling dollop of yogurt before serving.

C is for Channa Dal: Split, skinned, dried chickpeas are called channa dal. They are often soaked before cooking, but I don’t bother doing so with this tiny amount. If using soaked dal, cut the cooking time in half.

Kitchen Secrets: Indian cooks often grate tomatoes to obtain the proper texture for curries.

How-To: Prep methi. Pluck the leaves (with their tiny stemlets and any white flower buds), then discard the tough main stems.