Winter is a time for some lovely seasonal vegetables – one of them being spinach. For the health-conscious folks out there it is a great way to combine good nutrition with flavoursome meals. After all, spinach is widely regarded as a “superfood” that offers an immense range of health benefits. It is packed with calcium, manganese and Vitamin K which play a key role in keeping your bones healthy and in preventing osteoporosis. It is an excellent vegetarian source of iron which helps in preventing anaemia. Spinach is also rich in Vitamin E which boosts your immune system and protects the body from toxins, viruses and bacteria.
More importantly, spinach is also proven to be good for the heart. A study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology indicates that around 100 grams of spinach consumed daily can reduce the risks associated with heart disease by as much as 26 per cent. Interestingly, Mustard Oil, which is the cooking medium that we will be using for today’s recipe, is also proven to significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (by more than 70 per cent). Hence, the combination of spinach and Mustard Oil in this recipe makes this an ideal dish for heart health.
The dish we are making today is called Aloo Paalak – a traditional preparation of potatoes in a spinach curry. The warmth of Mustard Oil and the gentle heat of the carefully chosen spices being used make the dish a perfect choice for a cold winter’s day – or night.
Here are the ingredients that you will require.
Potatoes (Aloo): 4, medium-sized
Spinach (Paalak): 200 grams
Onion: 1, medium-sized
Green Chillies: 4
Dry Red Chillies: 2
Mustard Oil: 3 tablespoons
Ghee: 1 tablespoon
Ginger (Adrak), grated: 1 tablespoon
Garlic (Lasun): 6 cloves
Bay Leaf (Tej Patta): 1
Coriander (Dhania) Leaves: 100 grams
Cumin (Jeera) Seeds: 1 teaspoon
Garam Masala: 2 teaspoons
Salt: to taste
The quantities mentioned above are for preparing four servings. Adjust the quantities proportionately to suit the number of servings that you require.
Peel, wash and cut the potatoes into small cubes.
Blanch the spinach. To do this, heat water in a pan. When the water begins to boil, put the spinach leaves in the boiling water. After a minute, carefully remove the leaves from the boiling water and submerge them in a bowl of iced water. After a minute or so, take the leaves out of the iced water and use your hands to squeeze and shake any excess water out from the leaves. Keep the leaves aside.
Peel, wash and finely chop the onion.
Of the four green chillies, slit one of them vertically.
Peel, wash and finely chop the garlic.
Place the blanched spinach leaves in a blender along with the coriander leaves and three green chillies (keeping aside the one you had slit earlier). Blend to create a smooth paste. There is no need to add water – the natural moisture in the spinach and coriander is enough for making this paste.
Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan on a High flame. When the oil reaches its smoking point, aromatic smoke will rise up in white streams from the surface of the hot oil. Now reduce the flame to Medium.
Add the red chillies, bay leaf and cumin seeds to the hot oil, and sauté till the cumin seeds begin to splutter.
Next, add the ginger and garlic, and continue to sauté for a minute or so.
Now add the onion and sauté till the onion pieces take on a translucent quality.
Next, add the potatoes along with the slit green chilli. Add salt to taste and stir to mix all the ingredients well.
Cover the pan and cook till the potatoes are done.
Now add the spinach and coriander paste that you had prepared earlier. Stir to mix well.
Next, add around 100 millilitres of hot water to the pan and let the contents simmer for around six minutes.
Now add the garam masala and the ghee. Stir to mix well. Cover the pan, turn the flame off and leave the contents for around three minutes.
Your traditional Aloo Paalak is now ready. Serve it hot. This deliciously healthy dish can be eaten with hot chapatti or hot rice – a perfect meal for a chilly winter’s day!
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