Think sindhi cuisine and what comes to your mind? Most of you will say “saai bhaaji”. For those of you who arent familiar with sindhi food, its from Sindh, which is a province in Pakistan. I will not go to the history of the partition and all because then it wont be a recipe…it will be a history lesson! Lets talk about this popular spinach dish instead. This is cooked in most sindhi homes on a regular basis. There are many ways of making this, and each home will have its own version. The typical one is a mixture of channa dal (yellow lentils) , vegetables and spinach. I feel its basically overcooked and thus loses all the nutrients, so today i made it in a different manner trying to retain all the nutrients of the vegetables. Since i have an international following , there might be many ingredients you wont be able to find in your city so I shall give you the alternatives. Do try this out. It is usually served with yellow pullao rice (recipe on the blog) and a bowl of raita (yogurt…recipe also on the blog). If you are on a low calorie diet this is a perfect dish to eat as its very low on calories. I omitted out adding potatoes, but you can. I will give all the options and for curiosity sake, there is another recipe on the blog of the same dish, made differently. I do spoil you all for choice dont i?????
300 grams of washed, chopped spinach, i used THIS
1 small carrot, diced
1 medium sized courgette, peeled and diced, you can also use turai, or kadu or lauki
1 large red tomato (this should be about 2 cups of chopped tomato), diced
1/2 cup of channa dal(yellow lentils) soaked for 4-5 hours in ample water
1 cup of chopped onions
1 pod of garlic, chopped fine
1″ piece ginger, chopped fine
1 cup of finely chopped coriander leaves
1 bunch of fenugreek leaves, chopped or 3 tablespoons of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) sorry no substitute for this
1/4 cup of fresh dill , chopped (sooha) , i did not have so did not use, but if you can get it please use it
1/4 cup of sour leaves (these are sour leaves you get in India by the name of “khatta ” it can be substituted by adding some fresh lemon juice if needed
1/2 teaspoon of Nitu Didi Turmeric Powder
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
chopped green chillies as needed
2 cups of water
This requires a bit of preparation. Chop all the vegetables. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pressure cooker or a casserole pan . Add 75 % of the chopped garlic and let it brown taking care not to burn. Once browned add the chopped onions and ginger and let the onions soften. Once that happens and they start changing color add the chopped vegetables, the fenugreek and the drained channa daal (lentils) and give it a stir. Add the green chillies, tomatoes and turmeric powder. Add the water and cover the pressure cooker and let it cook for about 5 whistles or cook on the heat in the casserole pan till the vegetables and lentils are soft, adding more water if necessary. Once the vegetables are cooked add the spinach, the dill, the sour leaves and cook till the spinach softens. DO NOT OVERCOOK or else the spinach will lose all its nutrients. Lastly add the chopped coriander leaves. Lastly heat the other tablespoon of oil in a separate small pan and fry the remaining chopped garlic till brown and pour it on top of the ready saai bhaaji. Taste and correct seasoning and using a potato masher or the back of a large spoon mash it a bit to get this thick consistency.
NITU DIDI TIP:
You can add all sorts of vegetables to this like : diced potatoes, peeled and diced aubergine etc.
How do the sindhis eat this¿ They eat this with either yellow rice, brown pullao rice, or khichdi (all the recipes are on the blog) and boondi raita (yogurt with small gram flour dumplings in it).
You can make this richer in calories but adding more oil to it if you wish, or even doing the last step with butter or ghee.
This dish is basically made acording to ones taste. Happy cooking and enjoy your saai bhaaji!! My friend Reena Hira makes this very well and she told me that in Mumbai outside the Kailash Parbat Restaurant there is a man who sells foodstuff on a cart and he has this packet of “sukhi saai bhaaji” which is dried saai bhaaji and contains a mixture of dried fenugreek, dill and those sour leaves. If you can get it, just add 2 tablespoons of it and pressure cook it with the vegetables.
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