“India is the most vegetarian friendly place on this planet” announced my sister during one of our skype encounters. Currently studying in the US, she was just back from a holiday in western Europe. This statement of hers had me wondering about my own stints abroad and I had to admit that although I had enjoyed eating a wide variety of good food, being a strict vegetarian without wanting to bend my rules it required much planning, efforts and energy from my end.
This also had me wondering about how we take vegetarian food for granted in India. Go to any nook or corner of this country, travel north, south, east or west and it is so easy to find vegetarian food. From street food to exotic fare, on roadsides and in exquisite hotels, it is hard to miss this country™s proximity with vegetarianism.
This vegetable preparation comes together quickly provided you have the ingredients on hand. I have noticed that it is quite easy to get intimidated with Indian food because of the long list of Ingredients. The upside is that once you buy the spices and the groceries, they stock well and last really long. Some spices can stay fresh for upto 2 years. This Spinach, Potato and Pea side, cooked the east Indian way is a great means to add vegetables to a lunch, brunch or dinner menu. It perfectly complements most breads and rice dishes.
East Indian Spinach, Potatoes and Peas Recipe
My inlaws cook, Maya from Calcutta makes this dish and she says that you can substitute the potatoes with cauliflower and I suspect you could easily substitute the peas with corn. You can mix and match the vegetables here to suit your needs and tastes.
400 gm (2 1/2 cups) potatoes, boiled and cut into cubes
100 gm (1/2 cup) peas, boiled
1 big bunch of spinach, blanched and chopped
3 big ripe tomatoes, grated
3 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp asafetida
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin seed powder
3 or 4 green chillies, slit and deeseeded
2 tbsp coriander leaves
2 tsp salt or to taste
In a medium sized wok, heat the oil over a medium flame. Drop in the cumin seeds, ginger and green chillies. Stir for a few seconds and put in the asafetida, turmeric, salt and grated tomatoes. Mix in the cumin seed powder, red chilli powder and sugar.
Cook until the oil separates from the tomatoes, about 4 to 5 minutes. Put in the cooked peas and potatoes and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach and chopped coriander and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more or until the spices are properly incorporated into the vegetables.
Serve hot or at room temperature with the rice or bread of your choice.