Basella or Vine Spinach or Malabar Spinach as we call it in India and South Asia is one of the most nutritious green leafy vegetable. It’s packed with Vitamin B1, B6 , B2, Vitamin A and C and many other minerals like Calcium and Iron. It’s a healing agent and used in Ayurvedic medicines to ulcers and diarrhoea.
In Western India and South India Malabar Spinach is cooked in many different ways. My part time helper in Tokyo who was from Sri Lanka found Malabar Spinach and she made a really nice Srilankan recipe for me. It had red lentils and I was really surprised by that as my mum puts mung or pigeon lentils in this recipe.
Because I like my mother’s recipe, this is the way I like to cook it. This recipe goes really well with bhakri (sorghum roti) or wheat roti or even with rice.
Give it a try!
- 3 cup chopped malabar spinach with tender stems
- 2 red onions finely chopped
- ½ cup cooked pigeon peas (toor dal)
- 10 garlic cloves finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh coconut grated
- ¼ cup raw peanuts
- 2 dried red chillies
- 1 tbsp tamarind pulp
- ½ tsp grated jaggery
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp or to taste red chilli powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- About 1 cup water
- 1 tsp oil
- 6 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 2 red chillies
- ½ tsp red chilli powder
- ¼ tsp asafoetida
- ¼ tsp mustard seeds
- A few curry leaves
Cook the pigeon peas (toor dal) in a pressure cooker till it’s soft and mushy. Keep it aside.
In a wok or a pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds, let them splutter. Add in the red chillies, garlic and turmeric powder. Sauté for 3-4 minutes till the garlic is golden brown.
Add onion and peanuts, cooked till the onion is golden brown. Add red chilli powder, mix well. Add the spinach with ½ cup water and let it cook till the stems are tender.
Now add the cooked lentils, mix it well. Add another ½ cup of water. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the fresh coconut, tamarind and jaggery. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
Before serving, make the tempering. For tempering, heat oil and add mustard seeds, let them splutter. Add asafoetida, garlic and fry it it’s golden brown.
Add red chillies, red chilli powder and curry leaves. Turn the gas off and pour this tempering over the curry.
Serve hot with bhakris (sorghum roti)!