Winter fills Calcutta markets with the most vibrant array of vegetables. While spinach is eaten all year round in the West, here it is very much a winter guest. So it finds a prominent place in the shaak or the leafy-greens course on the Bengali lunch menu. This quick stir-fried version is made in our family with brinjals—another vegetable that is especially good in this season.
Yield: 6 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes
400g (1 bunch) spinach
100g (½ a large) brinjal
5 pcs dal’er bori (sun-dried lentil dumplings, optional)
30g (3 tbsp) mustard oil
1 dried red chilli
¼ tsp kaalo jeere (nigella seeds)
1 pinch turmeric
3g (½ tsp) salt
14g (2 tsp) sugar
15g (3 sprigs) coriander leaves
1. Wash and rinse the spinach leaves thoroughly until it is clean of all soil particles. Remove any thick, tough stalks since this is a quick stir-fry. Leave it to air-dry.
2. Chop the brinjal in 1-cm cubes. Chop the spinach stalk and leaves about 3-cm long.
3. Heat the kadai and add mustard oil. Once it starts to smoke and wait for it to change colour to a pale yellow. Now add the dal’er bori.
4. Fry until brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Once cool enough to touch, crumble it with your hands into small shards.
5. To the same oil, add dried red chilli and nigella seeds for tempering.
6. Add the cubed brinjal and fry with a pinch of salt until golden, about 5 minutes.
7. Remove from the heat, along with the dried red chilli and nigella seeds, and set aside.
8. Now, to the same pan again, add the chopped spinach. Add the remaining salt and a pinch of turmeric.
9. Cook on high heat without covering the pan to keep everything green and vibrant.
10. Once the spinach starts wilting and releasing water, move the stalk and leaves to the walls of the kadai, so that the water in the middle can dry up quickly.
11. Don’t overcook the spinach as we don’t want a mushy texture.
12. When the water has dried up, add the fried brinjal and bori shards. Cook for 2 minutes or so over medium heat.
13. Finish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.
Serve with hot rice