There's too much spinach in the house at the moment... I know this is beginning to sound like whatever I cook is because I have too much of it lying around. This largesse of spinach wasn't Pete's fault, though (for a change - heheh). We spent Saturday night in Colchester and on our way back, Pete had the good idea of coming back via Birmingham so that I could pick up some Indian essentials and some fresh veg like okra, yam and green bananas. I also bought two bunches each of fenugreek leaves and coriander leaves, but I left the spinach alone. However, I wasnt destined to escape it, because the shopkeeper threw in two bunches of saag to make up the 6 bunches of greens that were selling for one pound. Bah. (I've just realised that I said "bunches" more times in the last couple of sentencesthan I've said them ever!)
Still, spinach isnt such a bad thing. I rather like it. And since there was lots of cooked rice left over from the previous night, the choice was clear about what to make for dinner - spinach rice. With cabbage, since there was half a cabbage in the fridge. It was a Savoy cabbage, but you can use any cabbage really. I prefer the green variety to the white, though. I dont know what would happen if you used red cabbage - speaking colour-wise, I mean.
With green cabbage and green spinach, the rice ends up almost emerald coloured. And it tastes very nice indeed, especially if you use a lot of cheese. This time I used grated paneer to mix with the rice, and medium-strong cheddar to sprinkle over the top, but I've also made it with just cheddar cheese throughout. It tastes just as nice in a slightly different way if you use only cheddar - the texture of the rice becomes stickier because cheddar melts and paneer doesnt.
I suppose this could be classified as some kind of fusion cooking, but I'm not sure what's fused. It's basically Indian, with some cheese added.
Oh, one thing to look out for - big green-toothed smiles after you finish eating!
PS. I took photos of this, but for some unknown reason they didnt register on my camera chip :( Will add a photo the next time I make this recipe again. I'm really bummed out over this because I dont know what I did wrong with the camera - so there's every chance that it will happen again. Bah.
Recipe for: Spinach rice with green cabbage and cheese
1 cup basmati rice, cooked al dente and cooled
To puree -
3 cups spinach leaves
3 tbsp coriander leaves (optional)
1" piece ginger root
1 clove garlic
For the masala -
1 cup green cabbage (Savoy is ok), shredded
2 onions, sliced into thin strips
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2 whole cloves (or 1/4 tsp cloves powdered)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup grated medium-strong cheese - cheddar or similar (I used 1/4 cup grated paneer and 1/4 cup cheddar)
1/2 cup milk
3 tbsp oil/butter
Salt to taste
1. Puree the spinach, coriander, ginger and garlic to a smooth paste, using as little water as possible. Reserve.
2. In a flat-bottomed pan, heat the oil. Add the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and cumin seeds and fry briefly, then put in the onions and let them cook till they begin to turn brown.
3. Add the shredded cabbage and stir-fry for a minute or two, until the cabbage starts wilting. Then add the spinach puree.
4. Fry this mixture on high heat for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Then add half a cup of water and salt to taste, mix again and turn the heat down low. Cover and let cook for 3 minutes.
5. Stir in the coriander powder and take the masala off the heat, then pour in the lemon juice. At this point you can remove the bay leaf and the whole cloves, if you like.
6. Gently mix half the cheese with the rice, taking care not to mush the rice.
7. When the onion-cabbage masala has cooled, mix it with the rice until it's evenly distributed throughout.
8. Put the rice in an oven-proof casserole with a lid. Smooth the top, pour the milk over evenly and then sprinkle the rest of the cheese. You can add more cheese if you like.
9. Bake in a pre-heated 190C oven (375 F) for 20 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted and the rice is heated through. Serve hot with plain salted potato crisps on the side, or crushed and sprinkled on top. Add a dollop of Greek yogurt too, if you like.
Note: You can add green peas, shredded carrots or any other quick-cooking (or pre-cooked) vegetables you like to the onion-cabbage masala.