Sunday, January 25, 2009

Malabar Spinach Curry / Valli Randayi / Valli Ambat

My husband and I are great fans of Malabar spinach or "Valli" as we call it in Konkani. We find malabar spinach in the chinese markets or at the Indian stores. Sometimes it is also available at the farmers market. I have seen recipes where this vegetable is just chopped and added to sambar or dal. Due to its deep green color it has similar nutritive value as spinach. Both the stems and leaves are added to the curry. When the curry is prepared, the stem absorbs the flavors of the curry. The stem cannot be completely eaten unless it is very tender. So the stem is just chewed and the fibrous part is discarded, similar to eating drumsticks. Read more about malabar spinach here. 

Masolu is a gravy paste made by finely grinding coconuts, tamarind and dried red chili. In South Canara which consists of Mangalore and Udipi region, turmeric is not added while making coconut curries. In North Canara region which consists of Karwar, Murdeshwar, Ankola, Kumta and other towns, using turmeric while making Masolu is very common. Turmeric being a very good antiseptic and anti inflammatory spice, finds a place in lot of curries and subzi's I prepare at home. 

1 bunch malabar spinach or valli (approximately 4-5 cups chopped malabar spinach. The leaves are chopped into 12 inch pieces. The stems are also used in the curry. Chop the stems into one inch pieces.) 
1 cup magge (Konkani cucumber) or raw papaya (optional)
1/2 cup toor dal or pigeon peas
1 cup coconut
3 red byadgi chilies
small piece of tamarind
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon oil
salt for taste

for seasoning:
6 garlic pods

1 medium onion

mustard seeds


Wash the malabar spinach and chop it into 1 inch pieces. Chop both the leaves and stems. Pressure cook the papaya or magge and malabar spinach till soft. Pressure cook the toor dal till soft. Saute the coriander seeds for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Grind the coconut, coriander seeds, red chilies and tamarind into a fine paste. Mix the toor dal, spinach and coconut masala in a vessel. Get the curry to boil. 

Season the curry with mustard, turmeric and asafoetida. Optionally, crush the garlic pods and fry them till pink. Or a third variety of seasoning, the finely chopped onion can be fried in a tablespoon of coconut oil till crisp. The onion should be fried on medium or low flame for around 10-15 minutes. The onion should not be allowed to burn or the curry may taste bitter. 

Add any one of the above kind of seasoning to the curry and serve hot with rice.