While weeding out my obscene collection of magazines, as always happens, I sat down to turn the pages of almost everyone of them, cutting out pages I wanted to keep before tossing them….as you can guess, a lot of work did not get done, and I ended up with a huge pile of pages with recipes printed on them…..I keep all kinds, even ones for non vegetarian concoctions that I think someday I will adapt and make into an equally appealing vegetarian one…..well…but that’s another story….
Back to the pile of magazines…..I came across this old one with a lovely collection of comfort food recipes that they had titled “from our home kitchens” …. I liked it enough to want to use it here…..that’s what this recipe is all about….the comfort of a simple home cooked dish….
in my parents home, we had a lot of stuff growing in our unkepmt backyard….which I referred to as the “jungle”…. spinach, amaranth and bachali kura…also called chinese spinach, this has slightly rounded heart shaped leaves that are thicker than spinach and are slightly slimey when chopped…there are many kinds and we grew the creeper that climbed anything and another short stubby variant…. these would wind their way into stir fries or daals…..for the last few years now i havent seen or eaten bachali kura because it isnt available as profusely as the other leafy greens….so imagine my delight when i found three seedlings sprouted in one of my flower pots!! i transplanted them to a pot of their own and i think in the process stunted them….the leaves are usually atleast 2-3 inches in diameter….. mine are less than an inch…and very bushy….. nevertheless, i harvested 2 cup fulls the other day (the picture of the plucked plants isnt very nice…so i wont post…and oooo i didnt take one of the leaves alone)
anyways, i wondered what to do with my small harvest….it was too little to be cooked on its own…and hey much as i love “home grown” too little to waste fuel and time on…so i decided it would go into a simple daal….and this is what i made….slurpiliscious daal…we had this with hot rotis and a vegetable side and it was divine…. this is good with any kind of green leafy stuff….except i guess mint and basil!! both of which are also growing boistrously in their designated spaces!!
the last week has been blistering hot….ending thankfully in full blown 30 minute rain…..i leave you with pictures of my rain drenched plants…potted curry leaf and stubby chilly (for want of a name!!)….
to make bachali kura pappu ~ Serves 2-3
1 c masoor dal (red lentils)
2-3 T chopped onion
2-3 green chillies slit or 1 t red chilli powder
1/4 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
2 c bachali kura leaves / spinach / amaranth – roughly chopped
a pinch of asafetida
for the tempering
1 t oil
1/2 t mustard seeds
1/2 t cumin seeds
2 dry red chillies
a few curry leaves
how to: in a pressure cooker or open pan with lid, cook till soft the masoor dal, add the green chillies, turmeric and asafetida with 1 1/2 c water. when done, stir with the back of a round ladle till everything gets well incorporated, add the salt and blend.
in a pan, heat the oil and splutter the mustard and cumin seeds, add the red chillies and curry leaves. add the onions and fry till translucent. add the bachali kura leaves and cook for a few minutes till almost cooked, but hasnt yet changed colour. add the cooked dal and simmer for a few minutes, stirring. this should neither be too thick nor runny, it should have the consistency of a rich gravy. check for salt and adjust. serve hot with rotis or rice.