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Cover: Some like it hot

Recipes with spinach

19Jul 12

Spinach Vada

Spinach Vada
Vadas
are crispy Indian treats that you can enjoy for breakfast or as a snack. These fried pastries look a lot like mini-doughnuts, since they are round and have holes in the centre. However, they are a good deal healthier than doughnuts, because instead of being made with regular dough, they are made with ground up legumes.

Different Vada recipes will call for different legumes; normally, mung daal, urad daal, or channa daal will be used. “Daal” basically means legumes that have had their hulls, or outer shells, removed.

Legumes in general are very low in fat and healthy. Many Indian vegetarians cook with legumes a lot because they are so high in protein. Since they are also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, they really pack a nutritional punch.

There are a wide variety of different Vada recipes, but today I am going to tell you how to make Spinach Vada. If you are a vegetarian, spinach is a great way to get your iron.

However, this is not to say that Vada are extremely healthy snacks. They are, after all, deep fried treats. That is why I do not prepare them very often. But I find that once in a while, a little indulgence goes a long way!

They remind me a bit of falafel, which is made out of chickpeas. Usually they are also fried, but you can try this oven-baked falafel recipe for a healthier version.

Spinach Vada
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Vadas are crispy Indian treats that you can enjoy for breakfast or as a snack.
Ingredients
  • 400g Mung Daal
  • 200g Channa Daal
  • 1tsp Water
  • 2cm fresh Ginger
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 1 bunch Spinach
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Put the mung daal and channa daal together in a large bowl and cover with water. Leave them soaking overnight, or for at least 5 hours.
  2. Drain the daals and put them in blender. Add a bit of water, but since the daals have been well soaked, you don’t need to add too much.
  3. Blend on high until the daals become a thick paste.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli peppers and mix again.
  5. Chop the spinach and add it with salt into the blender.
  6. After well-combined, remove the paste from the blender and put it in a large bowl.
  7. Heat up oil in a large pan.
  8. Take a small handful of this paste and form a round ball. Poke a hole in its centre.
  9. Gently lower each vada ball into the oil.
  10. Fry until they are golden brown on one side, and then gently flip.
  11. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain the excess oil before serving.

 

 

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29May 12

Palak Paneer

 

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer is a delightful spinach and cheese dish. In my opinion, there is just nothing that can compare to the combination of spinach and cheese. These two ingredients perfectly complement each other and bring out each other’s best qualities. Paneer cheese is the cheese used in this particular traditional Indian recipe. It can be found at your local Indian speciality foods shop.

I find this Palak Paneer recipe quite rich and creamy. However, the good news is that this dish is very easy to digest. Many people are under the mistaken impression that Indian food is always very rough on the intestines. While it may be true that if you eat spices you are not used to eating, you could possibly have difficulties digesting your meal, you must also keep in mind that many people find vegetables easier on the stomach than meats and fish. And this Palak Paneer recipe, which I learned from my mum, is entirely vegetarian.

Also, it is not very hot or spicy, which makes for light digestion. Palak Paneer is best served with naan bread or with basmati rice, making it a complete and filling meal. I often make this for dinner on chilly days as it is so filling. It will leave you full but not stuffed.

Vegetable Samosas make a tasty accompaniment to this spinach and cheese dish. (And for more spinach options, try this spinach and lentil soup.)

Palak Paneer
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Palak Paneer is a delightful spinach and cheese dish.
Ingredients
  • 1000g Spinach
  • 4 Onions, medium sized
  • 4 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 80ml Water
  • 7tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 400g Paneer cheese
  • Pinch of Salt to Taste
Instructions
  1. Bring water to the boil in a pot and add spinach. Cook until soft.
  2. Drain the spinach and put it in the blender. Blend well until it is puréed.
  3. Chop and sauté the onions.
  4. Finely chop the garlic and add it to the pan with the onions and stir.
  5. Chop the chilli peppers and add them to the pan.
  6. Add in the puréed spinach and the water and bring it to the boil.
  7. Lower the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Chop the paneer cheese into small cubes.
  9. Fry the cubes of paneer cheese until they are slightly browned.
  10. Slowly stir the paneer into the purée.

 

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26Mar 12

Spicy Chickpeas with Masala

Spicy chickpeas with masalaPulses are a regular part of my diet. I am especially fond of chickpeas; they are used for many different types of foods such as stews, curries or salads (try this Carrot and Chickpea Salad). They can also be mashed up to make hummus or falafel. In this Spicy Chickpeas with Masala recipe, I take this otherwise bland pulse, mix it with red pepper and spinach, and create a feisty plate for all Indian-food lovers to enjoy! Although it might be a tad spicy, serving it with rice provides a nice balance.

Chickpeas are very high in protein and fibre. However, they are much easier to digest than other pulses. I appreciate that fact, and I keep it in mind to avoid any embarrassing situations regarding my digestive system.

These tiny seeds are an important part of Indian industry as India is the top producer of chickpeas in the world. Did you know there are actually two types of chickpeas? The common English variety is actually called kabuli. It is lighter and larger than the Indian chickpea, desi. The native desi is smaller, darker, and a bit healthier than the Kabuli. Regardless, either one will work perfectly in my spicy chickpea recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of cooked chickpeas, about 800 grams.
  • 200g fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 small tomato, diced into cubes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 5g fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preparation Method:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat up a few teaspoons of olive oil.
  2. When hot, sauté the onion, pepper, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent and soft.
  3. Clean the chickpeas by rinsing them in a colander and draining. Pick out any empty shells.
  4. Add the chickpeas to the frying pan, then the vegetables, and mix well.
  5. Add all the spices and the tomato to the mix, stirring well.
  6. Next place just enough hot water in the pan so as to cover the vegetables. This is to create a sauce-like texture when finished.
  7. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat and add spinach. Cover again and allow the spinach to simmer for 2 more minutes with the rest of the vegetables.
  9. Take off the stove and serve on top of rice.

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 45 minutes

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