Mahanandi

Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Cookery, Indic (2) ~ by Veena Parrikar


Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables
by Shyamala Kallianpur



Published in 1997 by Shyamala Kallianpur at Secunderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, India. ISBN 81-7525-059-3. (Click on the Bookcover for Author’s image)

If I were Eve in the Garden of Eden, the genesis of my fall from grace might not be the rosy apple, but the seemingly mundane edible greens. Such is the sway that this earthy bounty holds over my taste and imagination. They beckon me at markets with their dewy-fresh looks in variegated shades of green and their promise of glowing health. Thus, each weekend sees the grand entry of a motley bunch into my kitchen. Some of them get used up quickly in a zuNka, aloo-somegreenorother, or a soup. Then my inner child awakens and begins to clamour for something different. This would trigger a search through my cookbooks while the greens waited in anticipation and then shrivelled up with disappointment. For, my cookbooks have plenty of vegetable recipes, but leafy vegetables are almost an afterthought. Even in books that provide a respectable number of greens recipes, the varieties are restricted to spinach and methi, and sometimes mustard leaves. Part of this negligence stems out of certain inherent traits of edible greens; namely, they tend to be stubbornly local and seasonal. Most of them are not amenable to traveling long distances; hence, there are variations in the types of greens found even between neighbouring states. Cookery books intended to reach a pan-Indian or global audience cannot afford to waste space on recipes with main ingredients that are not found everywhere or at all times. It is perhaps a reflection of this constraint that the only cookbook in English on green leafy vegetables in India is self-published by the author.

Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables by Shyamala Kallianpur should not have gone out of print. It is the only book that provides recipes for over 30 different kinds of edible greens found in India. It has clear colour photographs of about 35 varieties of leafy vegetables. More importantly, greens are treated with the care and respect they deserve. With a couple of exceptions (such as the Sindhi Sai Bhaji), the recipes never involve pressure-cooking the leafy vegetables or overpowering them with spices. They are steamed, sometimes fried, or cooked just until soft or wilted. Thus, the greens retain their flavour, colour, and nutrients in the final dish. The author also demonstrates a meticulousness that is not often seen in Indian cookbooks. For example, she explains the difference between “roughly cut”, “chop”, and “finely cut” for leafy vegetables. She not only explains her rationale for giving the measurements for greens in volume, but further tells you how to measure them in the cup (“do not press….but just fill it”). There are many traditional recipes from different regions of India; however, there are also enough innovative dishes to satisfy the need to do something different once in a while.

The chapters are organized according to specific greens: the commonly available ones such as spinach, methi, amaranth, Malabar spinach (see photo below), and cabbage have separate chapters. Within these chapters, the recipes run the gamut from dry sabzi and gravies to soups, snacks, and salads; especially for the first four of the aforementioned greens. With 64 recipes for these greens, I am now never at a loss when faced with yet another bundle of spinach or methi. The chapter titled Other Leafy Vegetables deals with other easily-available greens such as bathua, green-stemmed and purple-stemmed colocasia leaves, coriander leaves, curry leaves, gongura, kulfa (purslane, paruppu keerai), ambat chuka (khatta palak), mint, mustard leaves, manathakali leaves, spring onion stalks, and saranti saag (ponnanganni). It is the last chapter, however, that I find the most interesting. Rather awkwardly titled, Some More “Other Leafy Vegetables” covers greens that grow in home gardens and are not available in the market, or not used much despite their market availability. Here you will find recipes for beetroot leaves, cauliflower greens, radish leaves, carrot greens, garlic leaves, pumpkin leaves, pomegranate leaves, drumstick leaves, tamarind leaves, brahmi, shepu (dill) taikiLo, omum (celery) leaf, and gherkin (kundru) leaf. There are only a few recipes for each of these vegetables, but the book gives a glimpse of the sheer expanse of possibilities that exists with edible greens.

Before writing this review I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to find the total number of edible leafy vegetables that grow in India. It is no secret that the undocumented heritage of Indian cuisines far exceeds the documented, but I can think of no other area, besides edible greens, where this truism applies more strongly. This study identified 42 species of plants with edible leaves or flowers in a single district in West Bengal. Our awareness is limited to only those greens that make it to the market, either through wholesalers or small village vendors who sell seasonal homegrown fare. Kallianpur’s book should have been just one in a long series of such works by various authors from several Indian states. This might be a tall order for commercial publishers, but an initiative funded by the government or NGOs with a nationwide reach might be one of the ways to highlight this rich culinary biodiversity and preserve it from the forest-fires of globalization.

Recipe: Kothchol (Indian Red Spinach with Bottle Gourd)

Adapted from Shyamala Kallianpur’s Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables


Top: Malabar spinach, also known as Indian Red Spinach. Bottom: Bottle gourd

Ingredients:
Chopped Indian red spinach – 4 cups
Tender stalks of the spinach, cut into 2-cm length – 2 cups
Bottle gourd – ¼ kg (peeled and diced into small cubes)
Jaggery – 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste

Grind to a fine paste:
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Dried red chillies – 5 (sauté them in a little bit of oil first)
Raw rice – 1 tablespoon (soak it water for 10 minutes)
Tamarind – one lime-sized ball (use less if your tamarind is strong)

Tempering:
Oil – 1 teaspoon
Garlic – 8 to 10 cloves, crushed (no need to peel).

Method:
Take the chopped stalks in a vessel, add one cup of water, cover and cook on low heat till the stalks are tender. Then add the diced bottle gourd and salt. Cover and cook until the bottle gourd is just-cooked, but not too soft. Now add the chopped spinach, jaggery, and ground masala. Bring to a boil and simmer until the spinach is cooked. Remove from heat. Prepare the tempering: heat oil in a small pan or tempering vessel and sauté the garlic, but do not let it brown. Pour the oil and garlic pieces onto the hot cooked vegetables and cover them quickly. Keep for five to ten minutes, then serve hot with rice.


This is a typical dish from Shyamala Kallianpur’s Chitrapur Saraswat community.

Text and Photos: Veena Parrikar

Previously in the Cookery, Indic series:

Introduction
Salads for All Occasions - Vijaya Hiremath

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Sorakaya(Dudhi,Lauki), Coconut (Fresh), Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar, Bacchali(Malabar Spinach) (Monday February 4, 2008 at 12:03 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Weekend Seattle: Can-Am Pizza, Bellevue


Nothing makes a newcomer feel more “loved” than their food being called “Dirt”. Thank God that not everyone in Seattle has the poor taste that Dylan W of Metroblogging Seattle brags about as though it were a virtue. How authoritatively this middle-aged man writes about the taste of dirt - perhaps an authority born out of having actually eaten it.

Anyway, it has been a year and half since we moved to this city and it has taken that much time for me to feel comfortable to talk about the city and the places we frequent.

One of the things I want to write about is Seattle’s eateries. If you are a veteran reader of this website, then you would already know about my pizza passion. We usually prefer local places rather than national chains. While we were looking for a decent pizzeria, one of our good friends recommended the Can-Am Pizza located at Bellevue. A branch of local, small, chain, this Indian-owned pizzeria serves besides the regular bland-cheese fare, Indian speciality pizzas. Good crust layered with zesty sauce and light cheese, bedecked with vegetables and paneer or chicken tikka toppings, piping fresh and bubbling hot, it’s just the kind of inspired pizza pie that may save a Seattleite from behaving like a lunatic on I-90’s traffic.

The owners behind the counter have that typical Bharath-style understated air of friendliness, and the place has bare minimum look. But somehow the whole package radiates that homey, comfortable feel. Of course what matters most is the pizza they dish out. At a time when Domino’s and Pizza Hut can make a pie enthusiast weep, this little pizza parlor, with its Indian -inspired pies and cult like following is just enough of a good thing to create hope in a pizza fan’s heart. One bite, and even Dylan W’s ilk can’t help but praise out loud, “Thank the Lord for Curry, finally, a pizza-pie with some pizzazz”!

Don’t forget the dahi (yogurt) dip they give free with the pizza.


Butter Paneer Pizza from Can-Am, Bellevue


Perfect Pie on a Super Bowl Sunday.

Can-Am, Bellevue:
Location Map. Reviews at Yelp and Seattle Weekly
Seattle Restaurant Reviews: at Archana’s and Live to Eat. Happy Birthday Sig!

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Sunday February 3, 2008 at 11:21 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Flavors of Life ~ Pumpkin Blossom

Pumpkin Blossoms, Painting by Sree
Flavors of Life ~ Pumpkin Blossom
Painting by Sree (Colored Pencils on Paper)

It’s rarely that a pumpkin vine grows to its prime to bear fruit in our garden. At my place, we are crazy about the pumpkin leaves (tender ones), buds, flowers and the young pumpkins. Hence any growth is literally ‘nipped in the bud’. Might sound like a heartless act of greed, but just try a pumpkin flower stir-fry or crisp deep-fry, and you will know why! However, this vine crept up beside the home inconspicuously amidst a huge rose tree (yes, the rose bush has grown into a tree beyond the first floor), and one fine day we noticed a huge pumpkin (seven Kilos!) ‘harvested’ in time for Sankranthi.:) I wish the remaining flowers, leaves and buds as much luck this year.:)

~ Sree

Previously on Flavors of Life:

Click on the image to see the

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Pumpkin, Sree (Saturday February 2, 2008 at 8:59 am- permalink)
Comments (1)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Perugu Pacchadi

Perugu Pacchadi
Perugu Pacchadi: Refreshing Preparation with Perugu, Onions and Popu
From Bharath for Jihva Onions at Radhi’s Kitchen

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Yogurt, Shallots, Red Onions, Jihva For Ingredients (Friday February 1, 2008 at 12:02 pm- permalink)
Comments (3)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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