There are so many spinach recipes on the bog now that I can actually make a new spinach category here! I’m a spinach fan, that’s no secret! Palak Mooli is another recipe added now to my list of tried, tasted and treasured spinach recipes.
When I started cooking in my own kitchen, some 20 years back, I found cooking with spinach very cumbersome. It was not something I would choose for a quick weekday meal. I did not have my amazing food processor back then, nor was I introduced yet to the clean, ready to cook, frozen vegetables. The entire process of finely chopping 2-3 kilo grams of fresh leaves and then washing them till I removed every last particle of dirt, seemed totally impractical – something I would only do for a special occasion, like Eid.
Then came the first baby, with a full time teaching job. I started looking for shortcuts. I found it was a blessing to have frozen peas, spinach, chickpeas and beans in the freezer to make off-the-cuff meals. Since I’m not a big fan of canned food, some things I prep in bulk on my free days and freeze, others, like peas and spinach, I buy frozen. And if the recipe asks for puree, I don’t bother chopping fresh leaves because they get processed in the blender later on anyways!
Now mooli, though extremely healthy, is not a very cherished ingredient at our place. My daughters wrinkle their noses and roll their eyes as soon as they see daikons in the grocery bag. Mostly it’s the pungent smell and the peppery taste of raw daikon that they don’t like. The only boy in the family, my husband, is a huge fan of daikons. For him, I keep including it in our routine in ways that are acceptable for everyone. Mooli stuffed Parathas, mooli ki chutney and palak mooli are some such yummy ideas that even the very choosy girls don’t reject.
This simple curry was our lunch yesterday with some potato stuffed green chilli fritters and plain whole wheat roti. I saw the girls taking second helpings. That means something, right!
5 cups frozen chopped spinach or 10 cups fresh torn leaves of spinach (1+1/2 kg spinach with stems)
1 medium onion
2 medium tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup milk or 2 tablespoons cream
2-3 green chilli peppers, chopped
A small bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
This Is What You Do:
Peel and cut mooli into 1/8 inch thick rounds.
If using fresh spinach, chop the stems off spinach leaves. Thoroughly rinse them under running water to get rid of dirt. If the recipe calls for a puree, as in this one, I don’t waste time chopping the leaves because they get processed in the blender later on.
Boil water in a large pan with half a teaspoon of salt. Add spinach leaves and cook covered for 5-6 minutes.
Drain the leaves, add to a blender. Make a chunky or smooth puree, according to your preference.
In the same pan, heat oil. Add chopped onions. Sauté till light golden.
Scoop out fried onions from the pan. Add them to the blender along with ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Make a smooth paste.
Add the paste, all the spices and 1-4 cup water back to the pan. Let them simmer on medium heat for a couple of minutes.
Add daikon/mooli and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the puréed spinach and stir in milk/cream. Reduce heat. Cook covered for 5-6 minutes or till the daikon is tender crisp.
Remove from heat. Garnish with chopped green chillies and fresh coriander.
Serve hot with roti or rice.