Delia Ephron from How To Eat Like A Child
There was a phase last year when I was unable to cook. We outsourced to a local bengali caterer and between him and D managed to feed the family okay. This guy however was pretty monotonous with his menu, he had some 4-5 items which he would repeat over the weeks and after a month you would think that alu-posto, dhokar dalna and charchari were all there is to a bengali menu.
To satisfy my cravings for authentic vegetarian bangla food a friend came to the rescue and would send over a little of whatever she cooked each week. Now she is a damn good cook and has a vast repertoire of Bengali recipes, she also likes to cook and eat well and prepares a full 6 course meal for dinner almost every day. No doubt that food from her kitchen was much awaited while the caterer's supplies languished in the refrigerator.
She used to make this Pui Chingri (Pohi Greens with Shrimp) which I fell in love with. I am sure my Ma would make it the same way but I was a typical kid regarding food choices and so though my Ma would force greens down my throat I don't have fond memories of them. Now with age I am not scared of my greens any more and even the slimy Pui has joined my list of favorites.
I have also learned greens don't make you stronger, it takes much more to grow into a person of character and strength, the 5 serving of vegetables merely sustains you in that journey.
"There was a Young Lady of Greenwich,
Whose garments were border'd with Spinach;
But a large spotty Calf,
bit her shawl quite in half,
Which alarmed that Young Lady of Greenwich."
Edward Lear, English artist, writer
Pui Shaak or Pohi Saag has the scientific name of basella alba and some other fancy names like Climbing Spinach, Malabar Spinach etc. Basella alba is a fast-growing, soft-stemmed vine, reaching 10 m in length. Its thick, semi-succulent, heart-shaped leaves have a mild flavour and mucilaginous texture.
Typical of leaf vegetables, it is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It is low in calories by volume, and high in protein per calorie. The succulent mucilage is a particularly rich source of soluble fiber, thought to remove mucus and toxins from the body. The plant is also a rich source of chlorophyll. You can apparently grow this plant from the stems/stalks and with tips from Soma I have planted some of those stalks in my backyard
This dish goes to WHB # 185 hosted by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook
Pui Chingri/Pohi Greens with Shrimp
This is a very simple and approximate recipe and serves about 3-4 people
Prep: Devein and clean shrimp if fresh. If frozen defrost shrimp and remove the tail. Toss about 8-10 shrimp with a little turmeric and salt and keep aside for 15-20 minutes
Wash and clean the pohi greens(I had about 1lb) and chop in small pieces. Chop the stems too.
Heat Mustard Oil(or any white oil) in a Kadhai
Fry the shrimp till they are a light golden yellow. Don't fry them too much, they get tough. Remove shrimp and keep aside
Fry 1 small potato chopped in slices till it is light golden in color. Remove and keep aside
Temper/chaunce the oil with 1/2 tsp of Paanch Phoron and 4 slit green chili. If you cannot stand the heat of green chili ignore
Once you get the beautiful flavor of paanch phoron add the greens along with the stems
Saute and let it cook
You can cover and cook to make it cook faster, but frequently remove the cover and give a good stir. The greens will release a lot of water which you want to dry up. Slimy pohi doesn't taste good.
When the greens is almost done add the potatoes, salt and 1/4-1/2 tsp of Red Chili Powder. Mix well and cook till potatoes are done
Add the shrimp and mix well with the greens
Serve with hot rice