Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Moghlai Kale

Keith and Colleen tag along on one of my museum tours. Once the tour is over he slips me a note offering tips....in kind! Two huge grocery bags brimming with basil and kale!!! Realizing that this harvest has come from his bountiful garden, I know I am in for a treat. That intoxicating aroma of fresh cut basil makes me yearn for pesto. Making that is on the agenda. But it is the kale that really excites me. These are not the leathery leaves you find in grocery stores. Keith's kale is pale green, thin, papery leaves with tender stems. I pull leaf away from stem with little resistance. Recipes flit through my mind as I destem and soon I have a mound of green before me. 

Kale usually gets made into pesto. Sometimes I made caldo verde. Slivered with pinto beans, it makes a healthy addition to legumes. Then again, roasted in a hot oven, kale emerges crisp, crunchy and very addictive. After mulling these possibilities, I rack my brain for an Indian version of kale. Having made none before I decide to let kale take the place of spinach in this North Indian version of creamed spinach. Any green should work. A mass of leaves sauteed in oil and butter, cook down fast. Braised and roughly pureed, kale adapts perfectly well to Indian spices.

Serves 2-3

4-5 cups Kale 
2 teaspoons Canola Oil 
1 tablespoon Butter
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds
5 Garlic cloves
3 slices Ginger 
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1/2 cup Water
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric 
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder 
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala 
3/4 cup crisp fried Onions

Destem kale leaves. Hold the stem with one hand and pull the leaves apart with the other. Wash and dry leaves. Cut kale into thin slivers.

Heat oil and butter in a skillet.

Cut garlic into thin slices.

When hot add cumin seeds, garlic and ginger slices. Let garlic turn a golden color.

Drop slivered kale into oil and saute.

Add water and salt to kale, mix and cover skillet. Turn flame to medium and kale braise for 15 minutes.

Remove lid and add turmeric, chile powder and garam masala. Let spices hang out for a few minutes.

Roughly puree kale. Try not to let it become of a soup like consistency. The puree should still have visible pieces of kale. You could also pulse it a few times in the food processor.

Crush the fried onions over kale, stir to mix and serve kale hot with roti or rice.

Meatless Monday turns out in my favor. Trader Joe paneer naans bake in the oven. Maa ki daal bubbles enticingly on the stove top. I break off a piece of naan, scoop some kale with it and let the tastes mingle in my mouth. Contrasting flavors explode simultaneously. I am pleased with the resulting experiment. Keith does a prolific vegetable garden. His thumb is not just green, but a veritable emerald. His gifts in kind are really tipped in my favor!