This is actually a curry like dish but is so delicious that it can be eaten as a soup all by itself. If you want to serve it as a curry all you need to do is to reduce the amount of water. The sour, spicy and sweet flavors combine well with the taste of coconut and make it a favorite even for kids. Try it and you’ll go back to it again and again. If you can’t find Indian spinach, try using regular spinach or ambat chuka (green sorrel) as I do. You’ll need to reduce the amount of tamarind if you use ambat chuka.
- 1 bunch Indian spinach (mayalu/vaali)
- 1 small lime sized ball of tamarind
- 1 tsp washed rice
- ½ coconut or 1 cup (freshly grated)
- 4-6 red chillies
- Salt and jaggery to taste
- 6-8 cloves garlic for seasoning
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- Clean the spinach by separating the stems from the leaves and wash both separately.
- Chop the spinach leaves fine and the stems into 2-inch pieces.
- Put the stems in a heavy steel bottom pot, add a little salt, jaggery and 1/2 cup of water and cook on medium to low heat till half done (about 5 minutes).
- Add the chopped leaves and continue simmering until the leaves are well cooked. (This cooked spinach can be ground if desired.)
- Grind freshly grated coconut, rice, tamarind and red chillies till fine. Add the ground masala to the spinach and add enough water to bring it to a soup consistency.
- Heat oil in an iron ladle and add the chopped or crushed garlic cloves stirring constantly till they’re light brown. Take care not to let the garlic burn as it does very fast.
- Add the garlic to the cooked spinach, stir well, check for salt and serve hot.
Note: This soup if made with less water is usually served with rice as part of the main course.
For the Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) version:
- Add date paste instead of jaggery but after the spinach is cooked.
- For the tempering, heat an iron ladle and add a drop of oil to prevent the garlic from sticking to the surface. Add the chopped or crushed garlic cloves stirring constantly till they’re light brown. This should be done on medium to low heat taking care not to let the garlic burn as it does very fast. You can alternatively roast the chopped garlic in an oven at 180 degrees centigrade till brown and keep it in a jar for use whenever required.