And I am back with a Bang ! Sigh! After watching one of those fantastically IQ challenged movies churned out by the Bollywood ( Chennai Express anyone??) I felt the need to seriously fuel or rather revive my brain cells. In fact dissection of the movie and its contents created a bad hangover the following day ( Btw, is there such a thing as a good hangover?). Good or bad, I really did need to get rid of it!
I channeled Popeye the sailor man! Extoling the virtues of spinach to any and all including unleashing the lecture to a resisting, unsuspecting family member, yours truly decided to rescue a particularly sad looking bunch of collard leaves from the refrigerator. A trip to the farmers market had yielded this bounty! And looking at that bunch, the one belonging to the Acephala family (“without a head” in Greek) ) the irony struck me particularly funny . Watching the movie Chennai Express could particularly create the effect of transgressing several species at the genetic level! No offense to the Acephala group!
This particular recipe, is heavily inspired by a friend’s creation. ( Dearest Vidya, thanks for inspiring an awesome organic chemical experiment .Maybe you will now give in to writing a piece for me 🙂 )
The wonderful organic experiment !
- A bunch of collard greens – ( mine were not particularly in the freshest of their spirits. A week’s time in the refrigerator I suppose dampened their green spirits, albeit only mildly! )
- Red onion – I had a particularly large one at hand. And since I was feeling slightly edgy ( Readers to kindly note the root cause of the aforementioned edginess from the first paragraph ) decided to use the entire one. Yep, one large red onion!
- Red bell pepper – 1 large one. I had a big fresh one at hand and I try and incorporate it as much as I can in my cooking.
- Green bell pepper – 2 medium sized ones. I had these two at hand. I suppose if I had an extra one, I would have added it as well.
- Yellow bell pepper -1 large one. Figured more the merrier 🙂
- Roma tomatoes – 2 large ones. Ripe and firm. Not squishy at all !
- Pressed, cottage cheese : About 8 oz
Iron chef skill aka knife wielding skills !
- Chop everything finely length wise ( Yes,even the Collard greens . And no, it did not take much time. About 10-15 min to chop a fairly large bunch) . Chop it to about an inch to inch and a half in length. Slivers any one?
- The panner aka Indian cottage cheese need to be cut as much aligned to the shape of all the greens. 1.5 inches lengthwise.
The Indian touch! – Dry Spices, Masalas
- Jeera or Cumin seeds : ¼ tsp
- Turmeric powder : ½ tsp
- Fresh ground Dhania ( dry coriander seeds ) powder : ¼ tsp
- Paprika or Chiili powder : ½ tsp for the heat ( use it sparingly if you need to lower the heat level)
- Garam masala or Sabji masala : ½ tsp
- The necessary evil : fat of your choice : 2 tsp ( I used Olive oil, the EVOO kind.)
- Salt : to taste . About ½ tsp
Fresh seasonings ( if you have it at hand)
- Freshly grated ginger : ¼ tsp
- Freshly grated garlic : ¼ tsp
- Fresh sprigs of coriander leaves, finely chopped . About a handful.
Sizzling in the wok :
- Add in the olive oil, 2 tsp and when it heats up add in the Jeera seeds and let it sputter.
- Then add in the fresh grated ginger and garlic (if using them).
- Add in the size-zero onions and let is sauté well in the wok.
- Then add in the turmeric powder aka haldi and add in the peppers. ( I dumped the whole lot in them )
- After about 5-8 min, when they are in the almost cooked stage but not mushy, add in the tomatos and let the mixture stew in for a few more min.
- Add in the collards the very last. They do cook fast when slim-line cut and you really do not want limpy looking greens.
- Add in the salt and the Garam masala.
- Now if using cottage cheese, add in the pieces. I usually sauté / toast the chunky pieces on the stove stop on a pan but this one time I did not mind adding it in directly.This particular cheese was fresh , firm but with enough sponginess in it to give the soft texture like silken smooth soft tofu. Oxymoronic description I suppose, but it saved me from sautéing them separately on the stove.
- Add in the rest of the spices and garnish with freshly cut sprigs of coriander!
Verdict : delectable and completely licked clean off the bowls by the kids..
Served with : Fresh rotis ( flat indian bread )
FIne print :
- You can add in any combination of vegetables for this one. Potatoes and carrots are awesome additions.
- You can definitely experiment with the heat level by incorporating more peppers of the spicier kind. Jalapeños anyone?
- Fresh Indian cottage cheese aka Paneer is commercially store bought by me. I used the low fat variety.
- Going Vegan? Use tofu instead of Cheese.
- Try adding in sliced slivers of peeled almonds . I am sure it would be wonderful.
Twist in the take .. Bring it on!
Use it as a pizza topping, fillers in grilled sandwiches.. Brain cells revived yay!
Cooking time : About 20-25 min
Serves : 4-6