Sunday, February 28, 2016

Spinach -Tamarind pachadi and some random chat about stereotypes

Spring has made its way surely and steadily. I don't want to jinx it but except for the big storm in Jan, winter overall has been kind to everyone and especially moderate to us. Our Camalias think it is totally safe for them to bloom and for their sake, I hope temperature just continues to rise up and not make a nose dive. Here is one gorgeous bloom from my front yard, just fills my day with happiness as I look at the entire plant come alive with these tender beauties all over. As far as my tropical plants in pots, I will wait another month and half before bringing them out to the deck. Hope everyone is enjoying the weather they have!
Buoyed by the beautiful surroundings, I made a more than the normal weekend lunch today. Here is how our lunch plates looked :-) and it was delicious. Before you get ideas, this is not the norm, just an exception. We are happy eating a one pot meal most weekends and in bowls without bothering to set a plate out. The fire roasted papad was a perfect cherry on top for the traditional lunch thali. 
Yesterday was one of those Saturdays when both BH & I didn't feel like going out. Talked to DD online for a while during the day when she had time and we both decided to stay home, warm and cozy infront of the big screen. As we were browsing for something that would keep both of us engaged, I happened to notice this movie called 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' on Netflix. I am glad we ended up watching that movie. It reinforced the fact that many people have been thinking about how we stereo type and categorize everything in the world. For one, it was a very cute and refreshing movie and both the lead roles have delivered good performances. I am not a movie critic by any standards but thought the plot was definitely praise worthy especially in the times where we all seem to adore heroines that perfectly fit the stereotype and can slip into size 0 outfits effortlessly. I have nothing against slim or non-slim women but it enrages me to think that our movies have been misleading an entire generation of women to lose their self worth just because of how they look. 

Though the plus sized heroine is the focus in the movie, the story also deals well with the frustrations of the un(der)educated husband and the world surrounding them which includes a show off friend who happens to have a slim and beautiful wife, a lower middle class family and parents who go hunting for an educated daughter in law that will earn and bring supplemental income to the household. I am sure the movie could have been morose or taken a totally different tone for addressing the story but this one has a lively and funny treatment all through. And the best part is that the hero & heroine fall in love despite the fact she doesn't transform into a physically stunning goddess by the end of the movie and stays firm on her plus size :-). I thought it was well worth a watch and something to be proud of for breaking the stereotypes. I recommend the movie to all like minded people :-)
'Breaking of stereotypes' talk reminds me of another story making the rounds in facebook recently about an Indian designer finding her model in a house maid. I saw some pictures attached to the story and thought it was pretty impressive that she transformed a girl who was absolutely unaware of the fashion world into a confident model that sat and posed with her designer wear, pretty cool, ha? I don't know how things will turn out for this accidental model but wish both her and the designer a good future.

Ok, I know many of you come here to check out the tasty, mouth watering recipes and are not really as interested in my commentary about a movie I liked, so let me take you to today's recipe showcase. This has got nothing to do with breaking stereotypes by the way and I am here with a very traditional, age old recipe from South India that I was reminded of in my favorite cook book '660 curries'. He calls it 'puli itta keerai' due to his Tamilian background but this is also known as palak pachadi or palak chutney in other parts of South India. It is a totally no-fuss dish that not only adds color to your plate but a lot of nutrients and taste too.

One of my friends recently posted a picture of an omelette she made and said she had her quota of greens for the day because of the amount of cilantro she put in it :-), quite sneaky, right? I called it 'cheating'. If you are looking for a tasty recipe that also gets in a good load of the mighty spinach into your body, here is one for you. The slow roasted and ground urad dal adds a lot of flavor to the dish. Go ahead and try this recipe that uses the usual ingredients found in any staple Indian pantry.
I may watch a little bit of Oscars tonight, how about you? Any favorites? Talk to you again next week.

What do you need to make Palak tamarind pachadi? 
3 packed cups of roughly chopped spinach/palak leaves
2 Tbsp shredded coconut
1.5 Tbsp oil - divided use
1/2 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
To roast: 
2 Tsp urad dal
1 Tsp chana dal
1/8 Tsp fenugreek seeds
2 green chilies
2 dry red chilies
2 1-inch pieces of tamarind
1/2 Tsp mustard
1/2 Tsp urad dal
pinch of asafoetida

How do you make Palak pachadi? 
  • Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan (use a big pan and you can reuse it to saute spinach leaves too).
  • Lower the heat to medium, add all the ingredients listed under 'To roast', chop or slit green chilies to avoid them popping out. 
  • Stirring frequently, roast the dals until they turn golden red and lose all their raw smell and taste, about 3 minutes.
  • Take out the dals onto a plate and let them cool. 
  • In the same pan (I told you to take a big one :-)), add the chopped spinach leaves and saute them for 3-5 minutes until the leaves wilt and become pulpy. 
  • Switch off and let cool. 
  • Take the roasted dals, chilies and shredded coconut in a blender, add salt and blend it to a coarse paste without any water. 
  • Once the ingredients come together but you can still feel the texture of dals, add the sauteed & cooled spinach to the blender and give a couple of quick pulses to bring everything together. Make sure you do not puree the mixture. 
  • Take it out into a bowl. 
  • Heat the remaining oil, add the ingredients listed under 'seasoning' and let mustard pop. 
  • Add the seasoning to the pachadi and give it a mix. 
  • Serve it with hot rice and a drop of ghee (or millet like I did) or with roti/chapati. 
  • Roasting the dals on a low flame is key to this recipe. Urad dal when not fried sufficiently tends to be sticky on grinding and also has a raw smell which is a no-no in a pachadi. So take time to roast them well. 
  • The pachadi is slightly chunky and spinach does not get pureed. 
  • Add chilies and tamarind to balance the blandness of spinach, the pachadi needs to be a little spicy and tangy for it to taste best. 
  • Don't add salt to the spinach while sauteeing, it increases the amount of water that comes from the greens, add it to the blender while blending. 
  • The sauteed spinach has enough moisture to make the chutney, do not add water to this.

1 comment:

NamsVeni Pothas said...

weekend lunch thali is so beautiful as the spring special white flower. chetney is a special recipe.