My favorite thing about our CSA is figuring out how to use strange/new vegetables. This summer, we've been getting Malabar spinach with a great day of regularity. Upon googling this leafy green, I learned a couple of things. 1) It is not even related to spinach. 2) If it isn't cooked long enough, it's slimy like okra when it's cut. 3) It lends itself well to substituting for spinach in Indian recipe.
I found some recipes online using Malabar spinach, but was quickly scared away. The ingredient list had several things I had no idea what they were. They called for dal. What? I thought dal was a lentil soup. This clearly wasn't working, so I turned to the library. I found a cookbook called The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook by Sereena, Alexa, and Priya Kaul.
Again, this wasn't without challenges. These sisters are Indians who emigrated to Britain. If you've ever tried to cook from British recipes, you realize how many differences in the language there are. All the measurements are different and you are told to preheat your oven first in celsius, then farenheit, and then gas mark.
We really enjoyed this. We served it with saffron rice, a store bought mango chutney, and naan. Mmm. Most authentic Indian food I've ever cooked (and best tasty too).
This serves 4.
Murgh Aur Palak
(also known as Chicken with Spinach)
adapted from The Three Sisters Indian cookbook
1 lb spinach leaves or as much as malabar spinach as you have
3 T oil
1/4 t cumin seeds
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 t ginger
1 t coriander
1 t ground fennel
1/4 t cumin
1 t chili
1/2 t garam masala
2 T tomato paste
1 c water
salt to taste
Wash and drain the spinach. Cut into medium sized pieces. Heat 1 T oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach leaves and a dash of salt. Cook until spinach has wilted and has lost its slime (if using malabar spinach). Remove from pan and set aside. Heat remaining 2 T oil in skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and saute until the seeds begin to sizzle. Add the chicken pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked through and golden brown. Remove pan from heat and add ginger, coriander, fennel, cumin, chili, and garam masala. Return to heat and stir in tomato paste. Fry for one minute, then add water. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes, until chicken is tender. Add the spinach (and any remaining liquid) and cook for 5 more minutes.
Serve with rice (saffron rice if you have the time).