Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spinach Thoran

I hosted some friends for lunch on Easter. Being a dessert lover, I prepared the menu in reverse order, beginning with egg-shaped mini chocolate cakes soaked with framboise eau-de-vie and drizzled with ganache.

For the main course, I made basmathi rice, spinach thoran (sauted spinach), and fish mappas (mild fish curry). I was a little worried about serving the thoran after one of my guests said that she tries to avoid spicy food! Turns out, I had no reason to fret. It was the star of the meal.

If you're looking for a flavorful way to make spinach (a superfood with lots of potassim), try my mom's recipe included below. A few tips:
  • Twelve cups of spinach may sound like a lot, but it shrinks considerably when cooked.
  • Dry out the spinach leaves before cooking them or you'll end up with a soggy dish.
  • Increase the heat to medium high when you add the spinach or, again, you'll end up with soggy spinach.
  • You'll develop the best flavor profile using fresh spinach. However, to save time, you can substitute the fresh spinach with three cups of frozen spinach (that has been thawed). Start with step 2 if you use frozen spinach. Substitute step 5 with: "Add the thawed spinach and cook until it begins to loosen. Stir to blend the spinach and onion mixture."

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Serves 5 t0 6


2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon urad dhal
1 cup finely sliced onion
2 dried red chilies
12 packed cups fresh spinach
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
Dash of turmeric powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut


1) Wash and drain the spinach. Set it aside to dry or pat the leaves with a paper towel to absorb excess water. Chop.

2) Heat the oil in a large saute pan on low heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover.

3) When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the urad dhal. Cook until the dhal turns light brown.

4) Add the onion and red peppers. Increase heat to medium and cook until the onions are translucent.

5) Add the spinach. Increase the heat to medium high. Cover and cook until the leaves begin to wilt. Stir to blend the spinach and onion mixture.

6) Add the garlic powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt, and stir. Continue to cook until the spinach is completely wilted.