I love green leafy vegetables, and am known to be unable to resist them. Every time I go to a sabzi mandi, my maid sighs because she knows I'll come back laden with all manner of greens, many of which neither she nor I recognise and which she has to find space for in our already overcrowded refrigerator. And, on top of that, she'll have to come up with ways to cook all of these before they perish, to critical acclaim.
Winter is when green leafies really come into their own in Delhi. There is one seller at the mandi I frequent who specialises in them, laying out plain old spinach, sarson ka saag, methi leaves, bathua and a host of others in glistening, inviting bundles. I really miss this category of veggies in the monsoon, at which time it's not really wise to eat them due to the poor quality and the risk of them being worm-infested.
I had always looked for a good way to combine spinach with rice and invented this recipe when I was in France. It's a one dish meal, needing very little to go with it, apart from natural yoghurt and maybe some papad.
1 bundle spinach, washed, dried and cut fine
2 red onions, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green chillies, chopped
2 inch piece of cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander powder
1 cup uncooked basmati rice, washed and drained
1/2 cup milk
1.25 cups water (approx)
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
Put the oil into the pressure cooker and let it heat.
When hot, add the cumin seeds and let them brown a bit.
Add the cinnamon, cloves and dhania powder and stir till the spices give off a warm smell (about 30 seconds).
Add the onions, garlic and chillies and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
Add the rice and stir to mix. Let the rice get slightly roasted, for 2-3 minutes. then add the spinach and the milk.
Add the water and stir to mix everything.
Add the salt at this stage.
Put the lid on and cook for 2 whistles.
Serve hot with the aforementioned accompaniments. If you like, you can also add parboiled potatoes during the cooking process, or alternately, roast them well and top the dish with them before serving.
If you don't own a pressure cooker, you can easily cook this over an open pan as well, it will just take a bit longer for the rice to be well-cooked, and bear more watching during the process.