An Indian twist on ‘Greens’

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Growing up I am sure we’ve all encountered our parents encouraging us to ‘eat our greens’ and reluctantly forcing, the invariably boiled, greens into our mouths. I have nothing against greens, far from it, I think they are delicious, I just think that a little helping hand from a few Indian spices goes a long way to making a fairly bland dish into an elevated one that you actually want to eat! There was a great article in the Observer back in September 2013 by journalist Tim Lott (see here)  which discusses the issues parents have surrounding making their children eat greens or green vegetables in general. The crux of the matter is that if it doesn’t taste good they are simply not going to enjoy or want to eat it. Also if we use the health mantra on them constantly this in itself is going to be a turn off.  We seem to be caught up in our own worry of putting healthy things in their months, but if we perhaps stand back and relax they will too and a natural love of these healthy foods will develop.

You’ll see in my recipe that I have added fresh chilli to the dish. I find my eldest daughter likes chilli, but with my four year old I simply omit it as she isn’t quite ready for the chilli kick! Chillies range hugely in heat levels so start off with the very mild ones – they tend to be the large ones you buy in the supermarkets. The smaller the chilli the hotter they tend to be in general.

Whilst the dish I want to show you today is vegetarian I also find that greens and kale work wonderfully well with chorizo (or any pork product really) and butter beans. If you have a moment take a look at my caldo verde recipe – here, for inspiration. It’s hearty and straightforward and perfect for cold winter days.

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Indian Greens

Serves 4

1 bunch of greens, washed and finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

2 small green chillies, finely sliced

2 tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil

2 tsp nigella seeds

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt (to taste)

1. After preparing the greens, garlic and chilli add the oil to a large pan. When the oil is hot add the nigella seeds and turmeric followed by the garlic and chilli. Reduce the heat and stir to avoid the garlic burning.

2. Add the greens and stir thoroughly so that they become totally covered in the other ingredients. Keep stirring for a few minutes and then place the lid on the pan. You may find that you need to add a little water at this stage.

3. Simmer gently and the greens will wilt and reduce in size. Add the salt to taste and more water if necessary. The dish will take no longer than 10 minutes to cook in total.

Simple, straightforward and totally satisfying.

I like to eat them with a dal or my Indian potato curry (blog post on this soon).


Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde

Caldo verde is otherwise known as Portuguese green soup, or broth, and whilst you can simply cook it as a soup, I tend to make more of a meal out of it and give it centre stage.  Its perfect for autumn or winter as it is satisfyingly hearty and filling. I deviate slightly from the traditional recipe of onion, garlic, cavolo nero/kale and potatoes by also adding 240g (basically one tin) of butter beans and spicy chorizo. It’s satistfyingly easy to make and guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. If you are passionate, as I am, about stews and soups then this one will really appeal to you. I particularly like to add spicy chorizo to give it that extra kick, but if you cannot find the spicy variety you can simply use normal chorizo and add a sprinkling of paprika on the top before serving.

Caldo Verde

Serves 6-8

400g of spicy chorizo, chopped into slices

700g potatoes, peeled and diced

2 onions, chopped

4 garlic, chopped

200g cavolo nero/kale/greens, thinly chopped

1-2 pints chicken stock (depending on how thick you want the soup)

240g butter beans

3 bay leaves

4 tbs olive oil

pepper and salt, to taste

paprika, pinch on each serving (optional)

1. Place the olive oil in a deep pan – I use my Le Creuset casserole pot – and when it is hot add the chopped onion, on a low heat for 5 minutes. Then add the chopped garlic and stir into the onions.

2.  When the onions have become translucent add the spicy chorizo, which will begin to create a lovely red hue to the onions as the spicy chorizo begins to mix with the onions. Stir for a couple of minutes.

3. Add the diced potato, butter beans (tinned variety) and bay leaves and thoroughly mix into the onion, garlic and chorizo. Add 1 pint of chicken stock and let the soup simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes, by which time the potatoes should be soft.

4. Add the finely chopped greens. I use cavolo nero, which is black kale, but any type of greens works equally well. You may find you need to add some more stock at this stage, depending on how soupy you like your soup.

5. Season with pepper and salt to taste.

Serve piping hot with crusty bread on the side.

Caldo Verde