1-in-3 - Western Greens, Indian Style

Growing up in India, I was familiar with few different types of greens, keerai as we call it in Tamil. Right after dawn, our Keera Kaara Amma (translates to ‘old lady selling greens’) used to bring variety of greens, harvested few hours earlier, to our doorsteps everyday. Other than the occasional drumstick leaves, spinach, pennywort (vallarai keerai, for their power to boost our memory retention), my mom mostly cooked only amaranth or mola keerai. Nothing to complain about; those tender leaves and succulent stems were a favourite of mine. I am not exaggerating if I say that I solely grew up knowing only amaranth, as a leafy vegetable.

After coming to the US, I found it very difficult getting to know new greens. Salad greens were totally off limits (who ate salad greens in India? at least I didn’t), spinach did not taste the same and amaranth was nowhere to be found. Unlike vegetables, identifying a green, even if its already familiar, is very confusing to identify, if labeled under a different name. Apparently I am not alone.

Living many months without greens, I timidly put a step forward to try foreign leaves. Swiss chard was to be my first try. Boy, am I glad I did. Chards (Swiss, green, rainbow) gracefully embraced me from my fear of foreign greens, and afterward, there was no looking back. I have tried almost all greens in the market shelves. And I find the best way to try anything foreign, is to prepare it the local way, something you can relate to. And that for me, is Indian style. And that is what this series is about. Allow me to share a few of my favourite Western greens, prepared the Indian way, in this 1-in-3 series.

Mashed Greens – Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

As I told you earlier, my mom bought amaranth quite frequently. But there is no complex spice mixture or procedure to cook ‘em. Cook, mash and season, that’s all. This recipe, as with many of the Indian recipes, believes in the flavour of the greens themselves, rather than relying on spice mixtures. So try using the freshest of greens. Since amaranth is not available in my area, I now make this with Swiss chard. Chards are mild, sweet and earthy that suits well with this recipe.


Swiss chard – 1 bunch, cleaned and chopped
Green chilli – 1, split
Tomato – 1, small, chopped (optional)
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp
Red chilli – 1
Asafoetida – a pinch
Curry leaves – few
Oil – 1 tsp


Cook chard, green chilli, tomato (if using) in ¼ cup of water. Sprinkle more water if necessary. Chard turns translucent once cooked. Take a stick blender and blend till the greens are coarsely ground. You can also do this in a regular blender after cooling down the greens a bit.

Return the vessel back to heat on low and add asafoetida and salt. In a seasoning pan, heat oil, splutter mustard seeds, then add cumin seeds and curry leaves. Heat through, check for seasoning and serve with rice and sambar.

Mashed Swiss Chard

Mashed Swiss chard served with tomato sambar and radish salad.

This is my entry to Weekend Herb Blogging, Kalyn's brainchild, hosted by Vani of Batasari this week.


amna said...

my mom makes this quite frequently and i especially love to mix this with rice and have it hot!

was wondering yesterday why your next post was taking long in coming, and here it is :)

Raaga said...

mashiyal... love it... I knew some 5 types of keerai... mola, then a red one, palak, gonkura (pulicha keerai??) and pasala keerai or some such thing... konkani name: vaali :-)

But I agree... keerai generally meant mola to me too. :-)

Roopa said...

wow looks authentic will try this sometime :)

EC said...

There is similarity in the way we cook greens, but i dont grind them..the colour looks great

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Oh I love Swiss Chard. I have the same problem but the other way round! When I am in Dubai I am forever looking for greens I find here to cook up something great for my parents. LOL! I have to say I love you Indian touch to the chard. Awesome!

Padmaja said...

My dad's favourite is amaranth fry with garlic. He used to ask mom to make it everyday as a side dish.I never used to like it but after coming here and not getting those leaves make me crave for amaranth dal but now I will try to substitute with swiss chard. Beautiful colors and simple dish!!
Your pictures are just perfect to make anyone to crave for more!!

Suganya said...

Nags, I know what you are talking about. With a dollop of ghee ;).

You got it right, Raaga. Keera masiyal. What I took for granted in India, had me go nuts once after I came here. I have settled on this recipe and now I can rest :).

Sure do, Roopa.

Easycrafts, My mom doesn't grind amaranth too. The greens are really tender that she will mash it with a wooden masher specifically made for this. Chard is hardier than amaranth.

Meeta, I guess greens are few things that are quite local. Its hard to export them, unless frozen.

Pad, I know what you mean. Do you think I would have cared and extensively researched on greens if I were in India. Necessity is the mother of all inventions :)

Nupur said...

The idea of a greens-seller arriving at the doorstep with freshly harvested greens! Oh, boy, that is one awesome concept.
It has taken me a long time to get to know Western greens too...and your series is something I am totally looking forward to! This recipe is bookmarked right away.

indosungod said...

Suganya, love em greens, more now when they are not readily available than when they were. I discovered pretty late about couple of years ago and have been hooked ever since. Your keerai masiyal looks tasty.

If you have a sunny spot and a pot you should grow them, grow with no fuss.

Laavanya said...

I love keerai masiyal. Will remember to try with chard next time.

sunita said...

Sug, the thing that me and Dinesh crib at times is the availability of so many varied greens in Assam..like you, we too had our friendly lad who came to our house regularly to sell greens...but when you're in another place , innovation is the name of the game, as you too have found out, and done so well.We too make use of the local produce rather than go gaga over something that has been flown over miles in ice :-D

sra said...

I've tried this masiyal business just once and I was not able to mash it with the daal masher - I put it in the blender and was rewarded with a thick soup. And somehow my dish didn't taste like the amaranth dish I've tasted elswhere - what could have gone wrong I wonder. Yours looks lovely, I'm a greens freak.

Finla said...

Wow it is really clever the way u used the veggie.
I always complain that here i don't get the same veggies like we get in India.

FH said...

I love Swiss Chard stir-fry too, tastes so good, soft and crunchy at the same time!:))

Swaroopa said...

cool recipe!! will give it a try...happy new yr, dear.

Sagari said...

I dont like greeans a lot but your pics are tempting me soo much , beautiful suganya

Rajitha said...

never thought of making mashiyal with chard..till now i have been adding it in dal or sauteeing with garlic..this will be absolutely mouthwatering!!

Latha said...

I am with you Suganya, i ahve nto tried too many of those greens yet (apart from turnip greens and mustard greens and of course lettuce). Will have to try the chards now :-) So is this like keerai masiyal or molagootal?? Will definitely pick up some swiss chard on my next grocery trip!

bee said...

try growing chard - from seed, or from a sapling. easiest thing ever. it even grows indoors. and the growing season lasts from spring to fall.

musical said...

The green here adapt pretty well to different styles of Indian cooking and your recipe is a glowing proof! Lookes lovely! Next time i cook chard, i'll make it this way.

Mansi said...

I haven't tried a lot of green yet! great you explored something new Suganya! looks like palak:)

Rina said...

Thats lovely Sunganya...Love the greens.

Rajesh &Shankari said...

Ghee, rice and keerai - marriage made in heaven. I like how you used chard..awesome

Suganya said...

Nupur, How I wish there is such a system here in the US. What more can you ask for than fresh greens and veges.

ISG, Sun is never a problem in my city. In fact, it is in excess :).

Laavanya, Sure try.

Rightly said Sunita. There is no point in cribbing anymore. Do post green recipes that you know of.

Sra, Chard most definitely does not taste like amaranth. But of all the greens, I find this suits the recipe well. Pulse the greens rather than grinding them. I know what you mean by soup, more like baby food, I should say :D

HC, Now you won't ;)

Yes Asha. I find chard 'friendly' among other foreign greens.

Thank Sagari.

Yes it is Rajitha. Do try and let me know.

Latha, this is masiyal not milagootal. BTW, I should try milagootal too with chard. Thanks for the idea :).

Bee, With temperatures in 110s for about 30 days a year in my city, greens struggle to thrive. May be I will try growing them indoors.

Sure do, Musical.

Mansi, I tried palak in this recipe. Unfortunately, it tasted more like baby food. Try chard, you will like it.

Thanks Rina.

Right on, Shankari. All the more tasty combination, keerai mixed with sambar, eaten with curd rice... Ahhh.. Thats second heaven ;)

Anamika:The Sugarcrafter said...

Tried a new cake..do have a look, when ever you can.

Revathi said...

Keerai masiyall.. looks yumm. very true I did not have keerai for atleast a couple of years after coming to US. For me keerai meant sirukeerai to me.

Luckily we get most indian varieties of keerai.

Btw I was looking for all-natural hand wash. Saw the method products all of them contain sodium lauryl sulfate or its derivants.. I am interested to know your take on it-

Susan said...

Chard is one of the most gorgeous greens around. Your camera has done it proud. Can't wait to see installments 2 & 3.

Ramya's Mane Adige said...

I Love swiss chards too! the first pic looks gr8

Cynthia said...

I've never had swiss chard, we do not get those here but we do get our fair share of other green leafy veggies which I'm sure you'd enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking for a recipe for a really good chick pea soup, seasoned well. Do you have one to share? Thanks!

Menu Today said...

Hi Suganya,
Keerai mysial with vatha kuzhambu great combination.Lovely pic.Thanks for sharing.

Kalyn Denny said...

Sounds very tasty. I do think it's interesting to read on people's blogs about what vegetables are eaten in various places around the world. Great post about how you are mixing the cooking of India with the produce in your new home.

Divakar said...

You can find Amaranth in Oriental stores like Chinese or Korean. They call it red shen choy or sometimes red amaranth.

Swati Vaidya said...

Thanks for the recipy, I got a bunch of swiss chard in Pune India...just liked the colour of it and didnt have a clue what to do with it!!!

Swati Vaidya said...

Thanks for the recipy! I bought swiss chard because of its green colour but didnt know what to do about it!

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