I think it would not be a hyperbole if I remarked that all cooks, amateur or professional, have an unabashed bias towards certain ingredients and a disdainful antipathy against some others.
And for Grandma, greens were her undisputed favorites. She adored her greens.
Spinach with a melange of vegetables and crushed bodis (dried lentil dumplings)
Cauliflower greens stir-fried with just a touch of kalonji.
Radish greens with shrimps.
Laal shaak (Amaranth leaves) paired with freshwater fish. Or just poppy seeds and toasted peanuts.
Pumpkin leaves rolled with mourola maach (anchovies), dipped into batter and deep-fried.
The list could effortlessly run into pages.
However if I were indeed persuaded to choose one green from the enchanting treasure trove of Grandma’s recipes, it would undoubtedly be her pui shaak ones.
Cooked with ilish maachher matha (Hilsa head) or the just as delectable vegetarian counterpart, cooked with a medley of vegetables.
Here’s the recipe of pui shaak er chorchori, the vegetarian version, unpretentious and earthy yet finger-licking delicious !!
Pui Shaaker Chorchori (Malabar Spinach with an assortment of vegetables)
- 300 g pui shaak or malabar spinach
- 1/2 cup pumpkin cubes
- 1/2 cup potato cubes
- 1/2 cup sheem or flat beans cut into medium squares
- 1/2 cup eggplant cubes
- 1/2 tsp panchforan
- 2 - 3 dry red chillies
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 2 tsps coriander powder
- 4 - 5 green chillies slit
- 2 tsps ginger paste
- 3 tbsps mustard oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt to taste
- Remove the pui leaves from the stems, wash thoroughly, roughly chop and keep aside.
- If the stems are tender, cut into 1- 1.5 inch long pieces, wash thoroughly and keep aside. If not tender, I would recommend avoiding using the stems.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan, fry the eggplant cubes. Keep aside on a kitchen absorbent towel.
- Heat the remaining oil, when smoking hot, throw in the panchforon, coarsely torn red chillies and a couple of green chillies. Allow the spices and chillies to splutter and release their aroma.
- Add in the pumpkin and potatoes. Saute for a couple of minutes. Stir in the ginger paste. Saute for a further couple of minutes.
- Add the turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, green chillies and salt. Mix thoroughly. Saute for another couple of minutes.
- Now add the ridge-gourd (optional), sheem, chopped pui leaves and stems and cook over a medium flame. Do not add any water. The pui and the vegetables shall release a lot of water and shall get cooked in their own juices. Continue to cook till the pui and vegetables are almost done.
- Add the fried eggplants, give it a hearty stir and cook for just another couple of minutes till the pui and vegetables are perfectly tender.
- Adjust seasonings and serve hot with rice.