Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kale Bhaja -- and how Green is my valley

Stir Fried Kale with lots of garlic, dry red chillies and then eaten with steaming rice with dollops of Kasundi. Yes ! That easy.

Though I am not too fond of eating "greens", I love green. The color green in nature.And as I say every year, I am mesmerized by the green that springs up around where I live as soon as April rolls in. The transformation is so magical and so abundant that coming from a childhood dominated with dusty greens year around, this green grabs me by the throat, flairs my sinuses, makes me take zyrtec and yet mesmerizes me.

Most evenings these days, I look forward to sitting in the patio and drinking my tea. Just staring at the green trees as I drive to work every day makes me hopeful. And taking advantage of the green and warm weather, this Mother's Day was spent at the park hiking or rather strolling along one of the trails, enjoying a a picnic lunch of pasta salad and boiled eggs and being treated to umpteen homemade cards.

Here is BS's card made during recess at school. My heart swore at the praise bestowed on me until she said,"Fate was the only word that "rhymed" with great.Ar kichu mone aschilo na." I thought, "At least not 'crate' or 'vertebrate' ."
But she also took great pain and time to make the beautiful origami flowers following instructions from youtube and that was her gift. Precious.

On Friday, I went to LS's school for the Mother's Day tea as is the norm. Either I have just got too used to it or my expectations have gone higher but this year I found the affair to be a bit shoddy. The school could have done a better job, at least as good as last year's. Or the year before that.

So anyway during the activity time, there was this rectangular construction paper where the kids had mentioned what they like to do best with their Moms and the Mom-child duo were supposed to draw/paint on that theme. No surprise, well a little surprise, that LS said she likes cooking with me. Not baking, which she does a fair bit, but cooking. That the kitchen and the adjoining family room is where we all congregate and spend most of our time might make her feel that all she is doing in her free time is cooking with Mom.

Also that  a couple of times, I have let her get on the step stool and stir something in the pot.
And she thwacks garlic and garam masala on the mortar.
And she rolls tiny rotis when my Mom is here.
And she gets to press the buttons on the blender jar when I am making onion paste.

You know where this is going ? In sharp contrast to my childhood where Ma firmly believed "girls need not learn to cook", my kids spend their life in the drudgery of the kitchen. Sniff.Sniff.

"So LS, how did you spend your childhood ? What did you play ?"

"Ohh, I cooked a lot with my Mom. And then some more."

Back to the art project, so LS drew this. She drew me and herself. This time "no visible belly button" and we are making orange Maggi. She also did not let me draw anything other than that single squiggly line of Maggi in the whole page.

It is beautiful and is going in my treasure chest.

Now, back to the green that I am not terribly fond of. The edible kind.

Since my Baba, is not very fond of eating and believes that "bhaat-aluseddho-dim seddho" for lunch and "dudh-pauruti" for dinner is enough for a human being's survival on this planet and everything else is a waste of time, my Ma did not get to cook a wide variety of greens. Palong Shaak, Laal Shaak, Methi shaak were the most common variety in our home. Pui etc. making occasional rounds. I am not sure what she felt at this green limitation but she seemed happy with the choice.

It was my husband who however is the green connoisseur having had all kinds from paat to kolmi to pui shaak to lau shaak all through his childhood. But we don't get all that variety here. Instead we have the Farmer's market with "Bok Choy", "Kale", "Broccoli raabe", "Collard greens" and "Swiss chard"

Since Kale is being touted as the "queen of greens" and people are drinking Kale Juice by the gallon, I have started buying more of this particular green these days.

The easiest way I make Kale Bhaja is as follows

Chop Kale greens

Heat Mustard Oil to smoking

Temper hot oil with dry red chilli and lots of garlic, thinly sliced.

As soon as you get the flavor of garlic, add the greens and mix. If you have a lot of greens instead adding all together , do it in steps. Toss greens, let it wilt a wee bit, add more greens, toss, repeat.

Once you have added all the greens and mixed nicely, add salt to taste and cover the saucier. Let the greens cook. Check in between and sprinkle little water if necessary.

Meanwhile make a paste of poppy seeds. This is optional but adds a nice touch.

Once the greens are almost cooked, add the posto/poppy seed paste, mix well and let it cook for few more minutes until done

Enjoy with a dollop of Kasundi and steaming hot rice.

There is another delicious way to eat Kale as in Baked Kale Chips

I have also cooked Collard Greens like a Kashmiri Haak. Some of the other green dishes from my blog are here for you to pick and choose.

Masoor Dal with Bok Choy
sarson da saag
Broccoli raabe into a Sarson Ka Saag

Bok Choy is used extensively in a Dal, in a jhol with eggplant and bori and sauteed with garlic in olive oil

Mulo Shaak or Radish Greens

Kale, I cook mostly stir fried like spinach or add to my Dals. Mandira's Kale Chips are very famous too.

Pui Chingri

Shaak Ghonto

Dim diye Palong Shaak

Palong Shaak er Ghonto

Palak Kadhi

Dal with Beet Greens


  1. All green recipe are looks very healthy and yummy. Gorom bhater sathe darun lagbe.

  2. I simply love greens - outside my window, and on my plate! I ought to try some Bong ways with it - do add pui to my mixed veggie dish, the one with panchphoron.

  3. Lovely...specially with gorom bhaat...

  4. Kale is not our fav vegg so i never make them. I think more than any presents it is these cards which i live, S give me every year one for Mother's day , my b'day etc... and she is 20 yrs she still do that :-)

  5. Yes, so strange, that - Ma never let me near her pots and pans, and here's my daughter doing the same as yours. Her chores are exactly the same - stirring, blending, rolling luchi. She is also my garlic-peeler.
    The cards, the origami flowers are beautiful. And all these treasures in exchange for their drudgery! :))

  6. Personal story with delicious recipes make for a heady mix. I have also, ever since my kids became old enough to make cards and other giveaways, kept all that they made for me at different occasions. And I have come to the conclusion that what the kids have made is more desirable than the food that may be on the table.

    But that is not going to stop me from trying out new recipes every day!

  7. great recipes here, you have inspired me to spend more time in the kitchen cooking for the wife. I have a novice before finding this site but now i feel like a pro. thank you very much for your time to post this.

  8. Tomar eyi barite khub bhalo sunlight tai na? Photo gulo ki shundor!

    1. hyaan Sharmila. ager tao khub rod peto. Ami kitchen ar backyard, south, south-east facing na hole, bari dekhtam i na. Eke eikhane thandar desh tarpor bari te rod na dhukle thakbo ki kore

  9. My son who is almost 5 yrs old does the same things in the kitchen with me that your daughter does. Made me smile while reading it. :)

  10. What is the bangla name of 'Kale'? I love the recipes of Kale. I don't know what's 'Kale' called in bangla, as i am reading all the health benefits and came across your article and the chips seems tempting. Thanks

  11. Last week I tried baby kale bhaja with small cubes of sweet potatoes, chinese egg plant, chopped beans and red onions.It's a quick and simple dish I often make with spinach by heating the mustard oil and tempering pnach foron, red chilli, broken green chillies.I throw in the sweet potatoes, egg plant, stir fry some time and then add chopped onions, after more frying add chopped beans, salt, turneric and fry till the vegetables are cooked. Add kale little at a time and fry till the greens are wilted and no water left.
    Madhumita Ghosh


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