This post is a shout out to another one of my favorite vegetables – Red amaranth leaves. Have you tried it before? If you haven’t, do try and get your hands on some. It is such a fun vegetable with its beautiful, naturally red color. It is super easy to put together and uses just a few, easy to find ingredients and you have yourself a mildly spiced, flavorful stir fried vegetable. My take on it, uses some grated coconut. Don’t leave the coconut out. It absolutely makes this dish. The name ‘tambdi bhaji’ literally translates to Red Vegetable (in Konkani, Tambdi=red and bhaji=vegetable)
The sad part is, as much as I love this vegetable, I haven’t been able to find these gorgeous leaves in Sydney. When I was back home in Mumbai a month ago, I knew we were going to make a few trips to the local fresh food market. Now, I haven’t spoken about this before, but back when I lived in Mumbai, my first stop to the market was at a little stall run by a local lady (from the Gorai – Manori stretch). There are a couple of such stalls and these ladies bring a gorgeous bounty of produce that they grow on their properties. And this is as close to fresh, chemical free and organic food as you can get (make sure you chat with your vendor to confirm their growing practices). So on one of these trips to the market, my favorite vendor had some gorgeous bunches of red amaranth leaves. Needless to say, I grabbed a couple of massive bunches and ran home to whip it up for lunch.
So without any further rambling, let’s move on to the recipe.
2 large bunches of red amaranth leaves
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3 green chillies, slit
1 onion, chopped
2 heaped tbsp grated coconut
Salt, to taste
To prep the vegetable, break off the roots and the woody part of the stems and discard. Wash the leaves under cold, running water and drain. Wash it out a couple of times or till clean. Roughly chop the vegetable and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat. Carefully tip in the mustard seeds.
When the seeds splutter, add the chillies and let them fry till fragrant.
Add the onions and saute till they soften and turn slightly pinkish.
Add the chopped vegetable and stir well to coat it in the oil and onion mix. Let the vegetable stir fry for a couple of minutes. You will notice it wilting already.
Add some salt, to taste and stir well to mix.
Add a couple of tablespoons of water and mix through.
Cover the pot and cook on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or till the vegetable is tender and most of the water has evaporated.
Add the grated coconut and stir through.
Check for seasoning and add more salt, if needed.
Cover the pot and let it cook for about another minute to let the coconut heat through.
Today, I have sort of a confession to make. Okra or Ladyfingers or Bhindi / Bhende (in Hindi / Konkani) whatever name you know it by, happens to be one of my favorite vegetables. There, I’ve said it out loud. Sadly, this intriguing vegetable has a bad reputation. It is infamous for being slimy and tasteless. I am going to try and persuade you otherwise. Yes, okra tends to when raw. Because of that a lot of folks simply won’t work with it. I’ve had the opportunity to try this vegetable in many different forms. If you’ve been here a few times, you know my Mum is a great cook. She would use these is vegetable curries and lentils stews (sambhar), stuff them with rechaad masala and fry them and make a stir fry (bhaji) two different ways. Since then I’ve tried atleast 3 more ways to cook them, like this Kurkuri Ajwaini Bhindi. That’s how much I love okra. And I’m here to tell you that if it is cooked well, it isn’t slimy at all. And it is tastes amazingly delicious.
In Goan homes, this is a very popular way to cook okra. Just a few simple ingredients go into the pot and result in a beautiful stir fry. Serve this vegetable hot with some chapatis or even as a side dish to some fish curry and rice for a complete Goan meal.
Goan Okra Stir Fry / Bhende Solantule
1 medium onion, diced
2 birdseye chillies, slit
5 pieces of Kokum
1/4 cup grated coconut
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
Wash and dry the okra. Cut off and discard the heads. Cut the okra into slices.
Heat the oil in a pan.
Add the chillies to the pan and saute it for a few seconds.
Now add the chopped onions and stir fry till the onion softens and the edges of the pieces of onion start turning brown. Now add the okra and kokum to the pan and saute for a couple of minutes, stirring every now and then to ensure it doesn’t stick to the pan or burn.
Add salt to taste and stir and continue to cook uncovered till the edges of the okra slices start turning a light brown.
At this stage add a touch of water (a couple of tablespoons) to help the vegetable cook. Lower the flame, cover the pan and simmer for a few minutes.
Stir the contents of the pan and check for seasoning and and when the okra is tender, add the coconut and stir through. (When you first uncover the pan, if the okra hasn’t cooked through and the liquid has been absorbed, add another small splash of water and continue to cook till the okra is tender).
Cook for another minute or till the coconut has warmed through.
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