Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Soppina Huli | Vegan Dandelion Greens Curry | Keerai Sambar | Soppina Sambar : A vegan and gluten friendly side dish


I scrutinize the vegetable section of the grocery store whenever I get a chance. Now, with an eight month old, it's not always possible. Couple of weeks back when I saw dandelion greens at the vegetable section, I was taken aback.

Can you spot these yellow flowers..., these are dandelion flowers and I'm talking about that plant...you can see these almost every where in spring season here in America. I stress again.., every nook and corner..





As per my knowledge, they are weeds that grow around the spring time. Dandelions are seen in the nook and corner here in spring season. I was not aware that, they were edible. I didn't dare buy them.
After coming home, I started looking for dandelion greens recipe. Uh uh.., nothing much could be found..but I understood that.., dandelion greens are very good for you. You can read about the health benefits of these greens here, here and here.

I got a big bunch of dandelion greens and made many Indian dishes using the same. We could hardly make out that I have used a new leafy vegetable for cooking. Dandelion greens blend very well with Indian cooking. I have made 6 dishes using dandelion greens so far and everything turned out so yummy!!

Don't call me crazy.., I like to make use of the local and fresh produce as much as possible. They are healthy, and pocket friendly, when compared to the imported counterparts ;)



You could eat this by itself as a thick soup or as a side dish with steamed rice or bread.

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 40 mins
Serves: 4 to 6



Notes: 

  • You could use any greens like amaranthus leaves, malabar spinach, hongone soppu, dantu soppu, harive soppu etc instead of dandelion greens. 
  • Adjust the spice level according to your needs. I have used both green and red chili in this recipe. You could skip one of them, if you want a mild curry.
Ingredients:
Dandelion greens: About 3 cups, chopped fine, refer notes
Green gram | Hara moong | Hesru kalu : 1/4 cup
Toor dal | Split pigeon peas: 1/4 cup
Green chili: 2 nos
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Salt: As needed
Water: As needed

For the spice paste:
Oil: 1 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Gram dal | Channa dal | Kadle bele: 1 tsp
Urad dal: 1 tsp
Coriander seeds: 2 t+sp
Cinnamon stick: 1 inch
Garlic: 1 clove, optional
Dry red chili: 2 or 3 nos, non spicy variety
Tamarind: grape sized or 1 tsp, thick extract
Grated coconut: 1/4 cup, fresh or frozen

For the tempering:
Coconut oil: 1 tsp, or any other cooking oil of your choice
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: 4-6 nos, torn



Method:
Wash the dandelion greens thoroughly under running water and chop them fine. You can use the stem of the greens too. No need to discard them.
Wash the green gram and toor dal too. Add the lentils to the chopped greens.

Add the whole green chili, turmeric powder and water to the greens and pressure cook the greens mixture for 3 to 4 whistles.

If you do not have a pressure cooker, I suggest soaking the lentils for 30 mins to 1 hour and then cook it in a sauce pan along with the greens. We want the lentils to be overcooked..kind of mushy.
Meantime, let's work on the spice paste. Heat oil in a small wok.
When oil is hot, reduce the heat to low-medium. Add the cumin seeds, channa dal and urad dal. Roast these for couple of minutes.

Then add the coriander seeds, roast again for a minute.

Add the cinnamon stick and garlic. Repeat sauteing and roasting for another minute.

Add the broken red chili and roast again until the chili becomes crispy.
Turn off the heat and add the tamarind.

Allow the spices to cool down. Once they are cool enough to handle add these to a blender.
Add the grated coconut along with the spices and blend it to a smooth paste. You can add some water to make a smooth paste.
Transfer the cooked lentils and greens to a sauce pan. Remove the green chili from the cooked greens and mash it gently. To the mashed greens, add the spice paste and salt.

Adjust the consistency of the curry by adding water. Boil everything together for 5-7 mins.
Prepare the tempering. Heat oil in a small wok, when oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. When seeds splatter, add the curry leaves and turn off the heat.
Pour this tempering over the sambar/curry and enjoy it hot.