Spinach is a green vegetable that I became very fond of ever since I watched Popeye as a little girl. Popeye gets extreme strength every time he eats a can of spinach. I was intrigued then and till today it is one of my favourite vegetables.
It is a favourite not because of Popeye, but rather because it is such a versatile vegetable. One can do so much using this as a main ingredient (I will add more spinach recipes along the way)! It also has much nutrition and one of the few vegetables that contains iron, It is also easily available in the local markets as well as supermarkets.
Some types of spinach can be eaten raw especially English spinach and salad spinach. Those are crisp and taste refreshing. The Indians love to use their spinach with cheese, lentils and even in some meat dishes as well. One popular Indian dish that sits on most North Indian restaurants’ menus is palak paneer (spinach cooked with Indian cheese).
What I have shown here is a rice dish cooked with spinach. I given it some richness by adding spices and almonds. It is suitable for vegetarians and it is a one pot meal. To make it wholesome, I usually serve with tauhu (beancurd) sambal or tauhu curry and a citrusy salad. It justs goes so well together.
250 g spinach
2 cups Basmati rice*
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp shredded ginger
2 cloves garlic, smashed whole
2 pinches saffron, optional
2 tsp garam masala**
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil***
Salt to taste
Wash basmati rice and soak in water for 20 minutes.
Clean spinach, stalks and leaves, rinse well, and chop it.
Chop the onions finely.
Heat a pan, add the oil.
Once the pan is smoking, add the whole spices – cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom and bayleaf.
Almost immediately, add in the onions, ginger and garlic. Stir it and once the onions are soft and slightly browned, add the drained rice.
Stir for 2 mins. Add in the spinach, garam masala, saffron and salt.
Stir for another minute and transfer this mixture to a rice cooker.
Add enough water to cook the rice to your preferred texture.
Once fully cooked, garnish with toasted whole almonds.
* You may use any Thai rice or brown rice instead of Basmati rice (Basmati has a nice aroma and the rice grains are long once cooked).
** Garam masala is an aromatic spice mix; it can be obtained from larger supermarkets or in Indian grocery stores.
*** You may use clarified butter or butter instead. Other oils can be substituted such as corn oil, soya bean oil and grapeseed oil.
For extra taste, you may add in a green chilli and some cherry tomatoes.
Popeye is a cartoon character and he has to fight with a giant who goes after his wife, Olive!