I used to make this a lot. I made it so much that I had to take a decade long break from making it, but now I am ready to eat it again! According to my favourite Indian cookbook, Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking, this is the “soul food” of the Punjabi Sikhs. It makes sense to me. This dish is shockingly similar to Gumbo Z’herbs (greens cooked with salted pork) and cornbread, which is considered one of the big soul foods of the southern United States. What this dish lacks in pork, it makes up for in garlic and ginger infused butter. Both dishes take a huge quantity of bitter greens and cook them into a silky, spicy, rich puree meant to be sopped up with savory, crispy on the edges corn bread. Both dishes are comforting, but full of vitamins and minerals.
This dish calls for Palak (spinach) , Saag (mustard greens, such as broccoli rabe) and Methi (Fenugreek). Spinach and broccoli rabe are easy enough to find, and while the dish would still be wonderful without the fenugreek, it is worth a trip to an Indian market to get some fresh or dry Methi if you have access. You will also need corn flour, which you can find at Indian markets, or you can use masa harina or very finely ground cornmeal as substitute. I am pretty loose about following the measurements for this recipe and it has never turned out badly.
BUTTER-LACED PUREED MUSTARD GREENS
barely adapted from Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Sahni
- about 1 and 1/2 pounds fresh mustard greens (such as broccoli rabe)
- about 1 pound of fresh spinach
- 1/4 pound fresh fenugreek leaves or 3 tablespoons dry fenugreek leaves
- 1/4 cup yellow corn flour, masa harina or corn meal
- 2 hot green chilies,stemmed and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida or 1/3 cup minced onion
- 2 and 1/2 cups water
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 teaspoons corn starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water
- salt to taste (don’t be shy)
- 4-6 Tablespoons ghee or sweet butter (I love butter, but I find 4 Tbs to be plenty)
- 1/4 cup shredded or sliced fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup thickly sliced garlic
- Thoroughly wash the greens, trim off the very tough bottoms of the stems, chop them coarsely and let them drain a bit.
- Put the corn flour, chilies, asafoetida or onion and water into a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Add the chopped greens, dried greens (if using) and chopped green pepper and allow everything to come to a boil again.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook partially covered for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. While this simmering is happening you can prepare the bread.
- When the green are completely cooked puree them until smooth. I use a submersion blender but a regular blender or food processor works too (just let the greens cool a bit first).
- Heat the ghee or butter in a small frying pan until very hot. Turn the heat to medium low and add the ginger and garlic. Sizzle for 3 minutes or until the seasonings start to brown.
- Serve the greens in a shallow bowl and pour the garlic and ginger laced butter over the top. Give it a few gentle stirs to streak the puree with the butter. Eat with radish corn bread.
from Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Sahni
- 1 cup packed shredded daikon radish (it does not work with red globe radishes…I tried it)
- 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 cup fine ground corn flour, masa harina, or fine cornmeal
- 5 Tablespoons water
- about 4 tablespoons butter
- Put the grated radish, salt and corn flour in a medium-sized bowl. Mix it all together, using your fingers to squeeze as much liquid from the radish as possible.
- Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, continuing to mix until it forms a very wet, soft dough.
- Divide the dough into eight lumps. Press each lump between two sheets of wax paper into a very thin circle OR just form them into not so thin circles by pressing each one in the palm of your hand (The pictures are of the thin variety, but in truth I usually make plump little patties with my hands).
- Fry the bread on a dry skillet 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second. Add butter to the pan and fry for an additional minute on each side. Repeat with the remaining breads.