How to make Bengali Palong Shaak Bhaja (spinach and aubergine stir-fry)


How to make Bengali Palong Shaak Bhaja (spinach and aubergine stir-fry)

Food bloggers Bong Eats give us an exclusive recipe for this traditional dish



Palong shaak
Palong shaak Image Credit: Supplied/Bong Eats

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

Ingredients

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

Equipment

kadai (wok)

stove

Method

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.

Palong shaak step 1
Palong shaak step 1 Image Credit: Supplied

2. Chop the brinjal in 1-cm cubes. Chop the spinach stalk and leaves about 3-cm long.

Palong shaak step 2
Palong shaak step 2 Image Credit: Supplied

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.

Palong shaak step 4
Palong shaak step 4 Image Credit: Supplied

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.

Palong shaak step 7
Palong shaak step 7 Image Credit: Supplied
Palong shaak step 7
Palong shaak step 7 Image Credit: Supplied

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.

Palong shaak step 10
Palong shaak step 10 Image Credit: Supplied

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

Palong shaak
Serve hot with rice! Image Credit: Supplied

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