This dish, traditionally made with mixed greens such as spinach and mustard, resembles an Italian pesto, though it is much thicker in consistency. In place of olive oil, mustard oil is used, and apart from the taste of the greens themselves, the other strong flavors include raw garlic, raw ginger, green chilis, and cilantro. If you can’t obtain the pungent golden mustard oil which is called for in this recipe (available in Chinese as well as Indian groceries), steep 1/2 teaspoon powdered dry mustard in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
In northern India, this dish is eaten at room temperature for breakfast, along with fried bread and tea. While raw garlic may seem alarming first thing in the morning, Indians consider it a medicinal necessity, and many swallow a crushed clove every day.
• 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and trimmed
• 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
• 1 clove garlic, mashed
• 1/2 teaspoon very finely minced fresh hot green chili
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons very finely minced cilantro
• 2 tablespoons mustard oil
Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add spinach and cook on high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until wilted. Drain, rinse under cold water, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can easily.
Put spinach in food processor or blender with 2 tablespoons water and blend until smooth. This will result in a fairly thick paste. Put in a serving bowl.
Whisk together ginger, garlic, green chili, salt, cilantro, and oil. Pour this dressing over the spinach and mix thoroughly.
— Madhur Jaffrey, originator of these recipes, was born in Delhi, India. At age 20, after graduating from Delhi University, she went to England to study drama. There, homesick for India and disappointed in the school’s bleak fare, she finally began learning Indian cooking from recipes that her mother sent from India. Since she arrived in New York in the early 1960s, she has been enlightening Americans on Indian cooking and culture through lectures, a television series, and several books.
Recipes copyright 1981 by Madhur Jaffrey. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
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