Braised Greens

Bhaji

Try this way of cooking greens with whatever’s in season. If you have a garden or access to a farmers’ market with vendors from Asia, you’ll have an infinite variety of greens to choose from, even some you thought were not possible to eat, like squash or bean greens. In India, Parsis usually go for amaranth, spinach, or fenugreek greens, or sometimes dill greens in combination with spinach. It’s difficult to be precise about the quantity because some greens lose more water than others. Always get more than you think you need, because the leftovers, should there be any, are such a nice bonus.

This way of cooking greens is also the foundation of a popular egg dish, bhaji par ida (see Eggs on Anything).

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 pounds greens (enough to give you about 2 to 3 cups cooked)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 to 2 green chiles, slit to the stem
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or Indian chilly powder
  • ½ teaspoon (or more) salt
  • 1 tomato, chopped with skin and seeds (optional)

Method

  • Remove any tough stems and wash the greens. With mature fenugreek, you often need to go further and strip the leaves off the stems. Steam the greens until just wilted, or put them in a pan over medium heat with no more than the water adhering to the leaves and let the greens collapse. You should have about 2 to 3 cups. Drain. Chop the greens if you like, or turn them into a rough-textured puree in a food processor.
  • Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the green chiles and let them sizzle for a moment before adding the onion. When the onion softens, add the paste, stirring to keep the contents from sticking. Add the turmeric, cayenne, and about ½ teaspoon salt for a start, and stir for a few moments before you add the chopped tomato, if using. Let the tomato cook down a little.
  • Add the greens, combine well, and braise over low heat, partly covered, until the greens are tender and well flavored with the other ingredients. This should take about 30 minutes. The consistency should be fairly dry, not swimming.
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