Friday, January 23, 2015

Five leafy greens


Dark green leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses filled with vitamins and minerals. Rich in chlorophyll and fiber, they help keep the colon healthy. The USDA recommends eating one-half cup of green leafy vegetables every day. There are many varieties of edible green leaves such as spinach, fenugreek, mustard greens, kale, collard greens, etc. Though greens they are most nutritious when eaten raw or lightly steamed, following are some other flavorful ways to add them to your diet.

FENUGKEEK (METHI)
Rich in iron, magnesium and B6, methi is used as a herb, spice and a vegetable. Mehi seeds are believed to have digestive properties and also aid in lowering blood sugar levels.
Aloo methi (potatoes and fenugreek)
Ingredients:
1 bunch fresh methi
2-3 large red potatoes
1 inch ginger chopped fine
2 green chilies chopped fine
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch asafoetida
1/2 tsp each cumin and coriander seeds
2-3 dry red chilies
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
salt to taste
  1. Wash, pick and chop the methi leaves fine. Wash and chop potatoes. 
  2. In a heavy bottomed pan heat olive oil. Add hing, cumin and coriander seeds and whole red chilies. Let these roast for 20 seconds. 
  3. Add the chopped methi, potatoes, ginger and green chilies and mix. Now add all other spices and mix well. Simmer covered for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally till potatoes are cooked through. 
  4. If any water is left in the pan then saute on high heat till water evaporates. 
  5. Serve hot. 

SPINACH (PALAK)
This leafy green is rich in iron, calcium, and a whole alphabet of vitamins. Use baby spinach raw in salads, throw a bowlful in hot soup (Italian wedding soup) or stir fry as below to eat with roti. Palak paneer is traditionally made by first boiling the spinach, grinding it and then stir frying with panner to give a creamy consistancy. To reduce the cook time and preserve some of the heat sensitive vitamins I make my everyday palak paneer as follows :-
Dry Palak Paneer (spinach with cottage cheese)
Ingredients:
2 bunches spinach
250 gms paneer, cut in small cubes
2 tbsp mustard/olive oil
pinch asafoetida
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 garlic cloves grated
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tbsp kasuri methi (dry methi)
2 green chilies chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander
salt to taste
  1. Wash, drain and finely chop the green leaves. 
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin and asafoetida, followed by ginger, garlic and kasuri methi. Let these hang out in the oil for about 20 seconds and then add the cubed paneer along with green chilies. Stir to avoid the paneer from sticking to the pan. When the paneer starts to acquire some color, about a minute later, add the chopped spinach. 
  3. Add other spices. Mix well to incorporate all the spices into the leaves. 
  4. Cover and cook on medium high for 5-7 minutes till soft, stirring once or twice in the middle. 
  5. Serve hot with rice or roti. 

COLLARD GREENS(KASHMIRI HAAQ)
Collard greens, a true leafy superstar has more calcium than a glass of milk per serving. Antioxidant and anti inflammatory benefits along with cardiovascular support properties makes this a super food. The cholesterol-lowering ability of collard greens may be the greatest of all commonly eaten cruciferous vegetables (source). These tough slightly bitter tasting leaves flavored with cloves and ginger powder are the most commonly cooked greens in Kashmiri households. Absolutely an exotic tasting dash and a perfect accompaniment to almost every meal.

Kashmiri haaq (collard greens)  
Ingredients:
1 bunch fresh collard greens
2 tbsp mustard/olive oil
pinch asafoetida
5-6 cloves
2-3 dry red chilies
1/3 tsp fennel (saunf), roughly pounded
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp each coriander and cumin powder
salt to taste
  1. Wash drain and finely chop the green leaves. 
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add cloves and asafoetida, followed by broken red whole chilies and saunf. Let these hang out in the oil for about 15 seconds and then add the greens. 
  3. Add other spices. Add just a sprinkle or two of water and mix well to incorporate all the spices into the leaves. 
  4. Cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes till soft, stirring once in the middle. 
  5. Haaq leaves do not get mushy and wilty like spinach. They will still have a bite left. 
  6. Serve hot with rice or roti. 

BLACK KALE
Kale certainly deserves a spotlight among the leafy greens. This nutritional powerhouse should be in everyone's grocery list. This super food is rich in vitamins A, C, K, B6, and calcium and magnesium. Packed with anti oxidants it is a heart healthy food. Many varieties of kale are available in the market. I have seen curly kale, red kale and black kale. You can use any variety for this recipe.
Black Kale
Ingredients:
1 bunch fresh kale (I used black kale)
2 tbsp mustard/olive oil
pinch asafoetida
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 garlic cloves grated
1 tsp grated ginger
2 green chilies chopped
2-3 dry red chilies
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander 
salt to taste 
  1. Wash drain and finely chop the green leaves. 
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin and asafoetida, followed by broken red whole chilies and ginger garlic. Let these hang out in the oil for about 20 seconds and then add the greens along with green chilies. 
  3. Add other spices. Add just a sprinkle or two of water and mix well to incorporate all the spices into the leaves. 
  4. Cover and simmer for 7-10 minutes till soft, stirring once in the middle. 
  5. Serve hot with rice or roti. 

MUSTARD GREENS (SARSON)
Quintessentially a Punjab fare with its hearty rich flavor and lush green color. Fresh mixed greens slow cooked and hand churned to a creamy consistency topped with fresh white butter served with makkai paratha and chaach - earthy, hearty, fresh food, a real labor of love. Find the recipe here.
Saag (Mustard greens)