Palakchi bhaji- a traditional spinach dish from Maharashtra, India

serves 8

Palakchi bhaji
Palakchi bhaji

This spinach dish is redolent of  traditional vegetarian ‘thali’ in the western state of Maharashtra, India. The word thali literally means a plate. Thali food is a conventional combination of foods that are served together on a large stainless steel plate. A  vegetarian thali would generally have 2 vegetable dishes, a daal ,chappatis , rice, koshimbir (the salad),papad, pickle and chutney, buttermilk or yogurt and a sweet. It is a well balanced meal on a plate. Of the two vegetable dishes, one is invariably a stir fry kind of vegetable and the other is more liquidy, with a curry sauce.

The palakchi bhaji is the liquidy one,wherein the spiced and cooked spinach is thickened simply by adding yogurt and besan (chick pea flour), both adding protein to the dish without adding fat. Soaked chana daal (split peas) and  peanuts add more protein and along with the coconut slices, add texture to the dish too. The tamarind and jaggery or brown sugar provide that perfect balance of sweet and sour, and along with the goda masala, create a explosion of flavor. By the way, goda masala is a ground spice mix available in Indian stores.

I used frozen chopped spinach, to make the job easier. I have also made this nutritious dish with kale instead of spinach and my husband happily ate kale for the first time:) Corn kernels are not traditionally used in this dish, but I think they juxtapose very well with the greens…..in my humble opinion, of course.

Ingredients-

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced
  • ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
  • 2 or 3 dried red chilies
  • 6 to 8 fresh curry leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafetida powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 2  (10 oz. each) packages of defrosted spinach, with the liquid
  • ¼ cup raw peanuts, soaked in water, about an hour or so
  • 1/8 cup chana daal, soaked in water until soft, about an hour or so
  • 1/8 cup fresh or dry coconut chips. I used dry and soaked them in water
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon goda masala
  • 2 tablespoons jaggery or brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind pods, soaked in 1/2 cup water and pulp extracted or 1/4 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
  • ¼ cup plain  yogurt ( I used non fat) blended well with 1/8 cup besan (chick pea flour) and 1 cup water

To make the palakchi bhaji-

  1. In a 3 quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Lower the heat and add the sliced garlic, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds,red chilies, curry leaves and the asafetida (hing), turmeric and chili powder. Take care that the spices  sizzle but not burn.
  2. Add the defrosted spinach with  the liquid and the soaked and drained peanuts, chana daal, coconut chips and the corn kernels.
  3. Add salt to taste and let the mixture cook, covered on medium heat for about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the goda masala, brown sugar or jaggery, the tamarind pulp with the soaking liquid and stir well to combine. Let it simmer on low for a couple of minutes.

    After 8 minutes of cooking
    After 8 minutes of cooking
  5. Stir in the besan yogurt mixture with the 1 cup water and mix well. Let it simmer on low for 2 more minutes, until the besan cooks and thickens the mixture.

    After adding the yogurt mixture
    After adding the yogurt mixture
  6. Remove from heat and serve with warm chappatis, rice and daal.

Love,

Sandhya

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16 Comments Add yours

    1. Sandhya says:

      Thank you so much, Serena. I am so glad you visited my blog! Come again.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh, suddenly I feel like eating Indian food for dinner! Thank you for the inspiration 🙂

    Like

    1. Sandhya says:

      I am so glad to hear that! Thanks, Indah!

      Like

  2. Zoale.com says:

    Looks very comforting and healthy 🙂

    Like

    1. Sandhya says:

      Yes it certainly is! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Loretta says:

    That’s great Sandhya, I made something similar yesterday with potatoes and channa dahl and spinach. I love dosas, and I just found out that you can get ready made batter, so I had it on hand and indulged :). I have bookmarked your recipe, like the peanuts and the addition of corn, it made it very colorful. So I have a question….. does fenugreek (methi) really stink up the house? I know Ive used it a couple of times and my husband says it just leaves too much of a lingering odor, is this true? I don’t think I’ve heard of goda masala either. All the same, it all looks wonderfully healthy and nutritious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sandhya says:

      Hi Loretta,
      How was the ready made dosa batter? I don’t think methi stinks up the place but if your hubby does not like it, you can skip it in this recipe:) Goda masala is a combination of dhanai jeera and sesame seed powder with some garam masala.
      Do try it- my hubby even ate kale when I made it with this recipe:)

      Like

      1. Loretta says:

        Hi Sandhya, the ready made dosa batter was really good. The best part, is you can leave it in the refrigerator for weeks without it going bad. I’m not sure if methi is what I’m thinking of, but I’m pretty sure it is. I’ve never cooked fresh methi, but I know that leaves a lingering odor too. My fav food is Indian although I love all cuisines, but Indian spices always leave a lingering odor don’t they? :)). I burn candles, leave the windows open, shut the upstairs, it’s a song and dance routine when I cook Indian. Yet, non-Indian folks love the smells.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sandhya says:

        So true with Indian food! Watch out for the dosa batter over fermenting too…leaves an awful odor:)
        I have been sprouting mung and other beans and it is the same thing. I have to make sure I refrigerate it as soon as it sprouts or else it stinks up the house.
        They freeze well and come in handy when needed.

        Like

  4. Using frozen spinach is a cool idea.. Makes the life of a working woman easier.. A good way to sneak kale into my hubby and kid’s diet;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sandhya says:

      Thanks! Yes I snuck kale in with this recipe and was successful!

      Like

  5. Mus says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog.

    I love Indian food, I will try to prepare your recipes although I’m not a good cook… They look delicious!

    Have a great week!

    Like

    1. Sandhya says:

      Thank you so much. I have streamlined some of the Indian recipes so they are easy to make. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mus says:

        Thank you very much! I’ll start with something easy.

        Have a great day!

        Liked by 1 person

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