The Shak/Shaag (any leafy green) Bhaja (Stir fried or deep fried) is a big part of the Bengali/East Indian Cuisine. Back home, if I was having a typical Bengali meal, I do not recollect a single day that went without some kind of leafy green, & unlike many kids I would love every preparation of the Shak.
The typical Bengali meal includes the following sequence of food -
The starting course is a bitter; the recipe & the ingredients changes with the season but common ones are bitter gourd, or tender neem leaves (usually fried with eggplants).
This is followed by shaak (leafy vegetables) such as spinach, pui, fenugreek, or amaranth.
Next come the dal/lentil, which is usually accompanied “something” Bhaja (fried – most of the times deep fried); that something could be any vegetable, but the usual ones are potatoes, eggplants or pumpkin Fried fresh water fish is a great candidate too. Another accompaniment with the dal/lentil is a vegetable preparation usually made of multiple vegetables cooked together; this could be either one of - Labra, Chorchori, Ghonto, or Chanchra.
The next course is the fish/shrimp course, which might or might not be followed with a meat course.
Finally comes the chutney course, which is typically tangy and sweet; the chutney is usually made of mangoes, tomatoes, pineapple, tamarind, raw papaya, or just a combination of fruits and dry fruits.
Largely found in India, Phillipines (& other South Asian Coutries), Mexico, Carribean, Africa, Greece & other warmer places, Amaranth is herbaceous plant of the genus Amaranthus.The tender edible leaves and stems, are rich in vitamins A and C, protein, folic acid, calcium and iron, and are often times cooked like spinach. The amaranth leaves are also a very good source of dietary fiber, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. Amaranth is generally available as a red or green variety, sometimes the leaves have both colors.(More pictures).
I have the Red Amaranth & the Round Leaf Green growing in my backyard.
Green Leaf Amaranth:
Red Leaf Amaranth:
This happens to be my first harvest of the leafs from my back yard & I have used the Green Leaves for this recipe. The red ones are cooked in the same way, but the color is reddish/brownish when cooked.
Shaag Bhaja: Amaranth Stir Fry
Note: The amount will reduce to about 1/4 of the original fresh green amount.
- 4-5 Cups washed & chopped Amaranth Leaves & soft stems
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 1 Green Hot Pepper, Slit
- 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
- 1/2 Onion, sliced
- 1 Dry Red Chillies or Red Chilli Flakes
- 1 Teaspoon Turmeric
- Roasted Peanuts or Almonds for garnish
Heat oil in a heavy bottom vessel.
Add the red dry chillies & the garlic; when the garlic starts to brown add the onions & fry till they look clear. Add the chopped greens, green chilli , turmeric & the salt; sauté for 2-3 minutes till the ingredients mix well.
Cover the pan and turn down the heat to the lowest point & let it be cooked till it is done & the water is absorbed; dry the excess water while stirring & tossing quickly.
Garnish with nuts. Serve with steamed rice.
This is send to the Swiss Chard Challenge hosted at Daily Musings.