Serving
(click to enlarge)

Spinach Stem Stir Fry
India - South
   
Serves:
Effort:
Sched:
Do ahead:  
2 w/rice  
**
45 min  
Yes

What to do with the stems from your spinach leaves? Here is one of the most wonderfully balanced Indian dishes I know, and it wants those sweet stems! The three types of "Dal" (split and peeled beans) called for should be on hand in any household that does even a moderate amount of Indian cooking. Curry leaves may be more of a problem.




6
1/2
1-1/2
------
1/2
1/4
1/4
1/4
1
6
1/2
-------
1/8
1/2
1/3
3/4
oz
c
c
---
t
t
t
t


T
---
t
t
t
c
Spinach Stems (1)
Moong Dal (2)
Water
-- Spicing
Mustard Seeds (3)
Cumin Seeds
Chana Dal (4)
Urad Dal (5)
Chili red dry (6)
Curry Leaves (7)
Oil
----------
Turmeric
Chili powder (8)
Salt
Water

PREP   -   (30 min - 10 min work)
  1. Soak MOONG DAL in Water for 30 minutes, or a bit more.
  2. Cut SPINACH STEMS into lengths of about 1/2 inch. This is better done by slicing than by chopping.
  3. Break Red Chili in half and mix together all Spicing items except Mustard Seeds.
RUN   -   (15 min)
  1. In a spacious sauté pan, heat Oil and stir in Mustard Seeds. When they are popping well, stir in Spicing mix and fry stirring until Dal is a light golden brown color, then immediately stir in Spinach Stems.
  2. Turn heat to very low. If Stems were dry, stir in a tablespoon of Water. Cook stirring frequently until wilted.
  3. Drain Moong Dal and stir in along with Turmeric and Chili Powder until well distributed. Stir in Water and Salt to taste. Simmer covered for 15 to 20 minutes, then uncover and simmer until almost dry (if needed).
  4. Serve with plenty of steamed Jasmine rice (see Note-9).
NOTES:
  1. Spinach Stems:   6 ounces is about what you get in stems from 1 pound of spinach. "Spinach" (Palak) in India is actually a form of beet leaf. Über-expert Julie Sahni recommends Swiss Chard (a beet green) for the leaves, but that won't work for the stems, so we use regular Spinach for this recipe. For details see our Amaranths page, particularly "Perpetual Spinach Chard".
  2. Moong Dal:   (Green Gram) These are split and peeled green Mung Beans. For details see our Mung Beans page.
  3. Mustard Seed:   In India black mustard seed is always used, but yellow will work. This is the Hindu temperature gage, when they're popping well the oil is hot enough (440°F/225°C or a little higher).
  4. Chana Dal:   This is split and peeled Indian Chickpeas (Bengal Gram). For details see our Chickpeas, Desi type page.
  5. Urad Dal:   (Black Gram, White lentils) This is one of the most important beans in India and often appears in the seasoning mix for recipes from Southern India. For details see our Urad Beans page.
  6. Chili, Dried Red   Dried red chilis from India aren't much available in North America, at least not properly identified. Most sold in Indian markets are Japones, or similar, and are not as hot as most Indian chilis. Dry red De Arbols are a good substitute, or Japones for less heat, or Thai for more heat. For details see our Chili Page.
  7. Curry Leaves: These leaves, only useful if fresh or frozen, are becoming increasingly available in Indian markets in North America. They are essential to the authentic flavor of Southern Indian cuisine and there is no substitute - so if you don't have them you'll just have to leave them out. No, bay leaves are not a suitable substitute. For details see our Curry Leaf page.
  8. Chili Powder:   Reshampatti is a good choice for this southern dish, and will provide noticeable bite. Korean will work (use a little more) or Cayenne (use a little less). For details see our Chili Page.
  9. Rice:   Yes, Basmati is the famous rice of India, but that's way up north and in Pakistan. Southern India, where Curry Leaves and Chilis are popular, is too tropical for Himalayan basmati. Long grain rice similar to the Thai Jasmine is more appropriate.
  10. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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