Greens and plantain with Toasted Almonds
Plantains, unlike their ubiquitous smaller cousins, bananas, must be cooked before eating. When they are not available, a good alternative is parsnips. Choose young, tender parsnips –about 8 inches (20 cm) long. In the North Indian style, the coarsely shredded plantains or parsnips and greens are cooked separately, then assembled. They are then thickened into a puree and flavor-enriched with spices and fine cornmeal or chickpea flour.
Preparation time (after assembling ingredients): 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
• Plantain or two 8 inch (20 cm) parsnips – 1 large
• spinach, trimmed and washed, Plus 1 pound (455 g) mixed fresh greens, trimmed and washed; or one 10-ounce (285 g) package of Frozen leaf spinach plus one 10-ounce (285 g) Package of frozen mixed greens – 1 pound (455 g)
• Water – 4 cups (1 liter)
• Ghee or corn oil – 5 table spoons (75 ml)
• Fine cornmeal or chickpea flour – 3 table spoons (45 ml)
• Coarsely crushed black mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
• Coarsely crushed cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
• Turmeric – ½ teaspoon (2 ml)
• Cayenne pepper or paprika – ¼ teaspoon (1 ml)
• Jaggery or brown sugar – 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
• Salt – 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
• Toasted silvered almonds – 3 table spoons (45 ml)
• Lemon or lime wedges for garnishing – 4 or 5
1. Cut off the skin from the plantain with a sharp paring knife, or peel the parsnips with a potato peeler. Shred through the coarse holes on a grater. Steam or blanch until soft. Drain well.
2. If you are using fresh spinach and mixed greens, bring the water to a boil in a large stockpot. Pack in the greens, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain well in a colander, pressing out excess moisture. Using two sharp knives scissors fashion, finely chop. Alternatively, cook the frozen spinach and greens according to package directions, drain and press out excess moisture.
3. Heat the ghee or oil in a large, heavy-bottomed nonstick frying pan or work over moderate heat. Add the cornmeal or chickpea flour, black mustard seeds and cumin, and fry, stirring constantly, until the meal or flour darkens a few shades. Stir in the plantain or parsnip and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric, cayenne or paprika, sweetener, salt and greens. Gently stir until hot throughout. Serve on a warmed platter or on individual dishes with a sprinkle of almonds and a citrus wedge.
4 or 5
4 or 5
By Yamuna Devi Dasi