Super Spinach

Spinach is one of those leafy greens that make any dietian's eyes go misty. Spinach is loaded with vitamins A, K and C. It is also a good source of iron, minerals, fiber, beta carotene and protein. The bottom line is, spinach is good for your eyes, your heart and your brains.

I came across an interesting folklore about the origin of spinach. It was first found growing wild near the desert of Dasht-e-Kavir in ancient Persia. It was named isfanakh, or "green hand," and it was cultivated to satisfy the finicky appetite of Persian cats.

Spinach was introduced into Europe in the 15th century and in US in the early 19th century. Since 1929 spinach has been popularized by the cartoon character Popeye as a muscle-building vegetable.

Eating and preparing spinach is simple and easy, since it tastes good raw or cooked. Spinach is available in frozen packs, cans or fresh. I personally like the fresh spinach over frozen packs or canned form. Fresh Spinach has a slightly bitter taste that can deter many finicky eaters; it needs getting used to. Spices and herbs work well with spinach to make it tasty.

Spinach Tikkas

4 cups spinach (chopped)
1 potato ( baked, peeled and grated)
1-2 green chilies (grated)
1 cup cilantro (chopped)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup almonds ( roasted and chopped)
½ teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil

In a bowl mix spinach, potato, green chilies, cilantro, lime juice, salt and sugar. Use your hand to knead these ingredients together. (Do not use food processor).

Finally add chopped nuts. Take lime size dough and make small balls.
Flatten each slightly and place them in a frying pan. Drizzle oil and sauté them till golden brown crust develops. Serve piping hot with tomato ketchup

Hema's hints:

For special occasions deep fry the tikka instead of sautéing.

<Back to Top>

Eat-to-your-health Stew

This dish is brimming with nutrient rich ingredients, indeed a perfect dish to eat to your health. This is my adaptation of the English sheperd's pie. I have used chickpea puree instead of mashed potato as the topping

1 tbs cuminseeds
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 16 oz garbanzo beans
2 tablespoon oil
4 garlic cloves (each cut into 2-3 pieces)
1 red onion ( chopped into 1 inch cubes)
12-15 baby carrots
5 roma tomatoes ( quartered)
5-6 cups baby spinach
½ cup water
salt to taste
sesame seeds for garnish

In a small frying pan add cuminseeds and black pepper. Roast till an aroma is released and the color of cumin seeds changes to a darker shade. Cool completely and grind in a small coffee grinder. Keep aside.

Drain the garbanzo beans and wash them under running water in a colander for 2 minutes. (The washing cuts down sodium contents in canned beans). Take half the beans and make a puree in a blender. Add water as needed to make the blender run smooth. Keep aside.

In a thick bottom pot, heat oil. Add Garlic cloves and sauté for a minute. Add onions, tomatoes, chickpeas, spinach and ½ cup water. Cook for 5 minutes on high heat. Add ½ cup of garbanzo puree, ground spice blend, salt and simmer for 10 minutes.

Finally pour the contents in a baking dish. Place the garbanzo puree in a ziplock bag. Cut a small part of one corner. Squeeze the bag to make a decoration on top of the stew. Garnish with sesame seeds and bake it in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees

Serve piping hot with garlic bread.

<Back to Top>

Palak Dal (Spinach with Moong beans)

½ cup moong beans ( split, yellow)
3 cups spinach ( chopped)
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice
salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil
3 garlic cloves
2 dried red chilies or green chilies
garnish with tomato wedges

In a thick bottom pan, add moong beans and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil on high heat and simmer for 7-8 minutes till the beans are well cooked. Add water if needed. Stir every 2 minutes to avoid burning at the bottom. Add spinach, turmeric, lime or lemon juice and salt. Mix well and remove from heat.

Crush garlic cloves with slight pressure on a cutting board with a pestle.
In a small frying pan, heat oil and add garlic cloves. Sauté for a minute and add chilies. Sauté for a 2-3 minutes and pour the spice infused oil over the cooked beans and spinach mix. Mix well and serve with plain rice and tomato wedges.

<Back to Top>