Malabar Spinach is freely available in Asian and other shops from Mid Summer, and is a lovely alternative to real spinach and other greens. Today we cook it fairly simply with urad dal for a very earthy dish that has a slight bitterness. It does not use many spices, and is gorgeous with some potatoes with chilli and onion.
Malabar Spinach with Urad Dal
0.5 bunch Malabar Spinach, washed, chopped coarsely (including stems). Chop thick stem pieces in half lengthwise.
0.25 cup + 1 Tblspn urad dal (split urad with husks on)
0.5 tspn turmeric
2 Indian bay leaves (taja patta)
1 red or white onion, chopped
2 – 3 green chillies, chopped, or to taste
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
5 additional garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
3 tspn ghee
2 tspn cumin seeds
Cook the urad dal in plenty of water for about 30 mins with the turmeric and Indian bay leaves until the dal is beginning to soften. If you have soaked the dal beforehand, it will only need about 20 mins.
While it is cooking, dry roast the cumin seeds until fragrant and beginning to darken. Remove from heat and grind to a powder. Set aside.
Grind the 3 garlic cloves with the green chillies to form a paste. Set aside.
When the chopped spinach to the dal with the chopped onion and the chilli-garlic paste, and simmer for another 20 mins.
In a small pan, saute the sliced garlic in the ghee until it is crispy and browning. Do not burn. Add the garlic and ghee to the dal with the powdered cumin. Continue to simmer until the greens are well cooked and the liquid has reduced.
Allow to sit for 5 mins for the flavours to amalgamate, and serve. It is great with Indian Potato Crush and rice.