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Recipes

Vina's Spinach Chaat

Recipe by: Vina Patel

Serves: 4

Vina's Spinach Chaat
Photo by:  

Melati Citrawireja

Excerpted from From Gujarat with Love: 100 Authentic Indian Vegetarian Recipes by Vina Patel. Copyright © 2021. Available from Pavilion Cooks Company.

Experiencing the culinary culture at every destination I visit fuels my love for cooking. Indian cookery is full of interesting and complex flavors — take this super-tasty chaat made with baby spinach. Despite being deep-fried, it’s a surprisingly light meal and I am only sorry I didn’t discover this recipe sooner.

Cook’s note: Place 3¼ cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off heat, add 1 cup (160g) tamarind pulp to the hot water, cover, and allow to sit for 1 hour. Using your hands or a spoon, press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and discard the fibrous leftovers. Tamarind purée can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week, or can be frozen for up to 3 months.

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Ingredients

For the sweet tamarind chutney
  • 1 teaspoon whole Nagauri Cumin
  • ½ cup tamarind paste (see Cook’s Note)
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon powdered Guntur Sannam Chillies
  • 1 teaspoon Chaat Masala
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar or roughly chopped jaggery, plus extra to taste
For the sweet yogurt sauce
  • ½ cup plain full-fat yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon ground Nagauri Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Chaat Masala
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
For the spinach chaat
  • ¾ cup (95g) gram/besan flour
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons Chaat Masala
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered Guntur Sannam Chillies
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 to 4 cups canola oil, for frying
  • 4 ounces (115g) baby spinach or baby kale
To garnish
  • ¼ red onion, finely chopped
  • A few cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup fresh pomegranate arils

Methods

For the tamarind chutney
  1. Heat a small dry pan and add the cumin seeds. Toast over a medium heat for 2–4 minutes. Tip onto a plate and allow to cool. Place the tamarind purée, water, toasted cumin seeds, chilli powder, chaat masala, salt, and brown sugar (or jaggery) in a blender and blitz for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust to your desired sweetness.
For the sweet yogurt sauce
  1. Simply whisk together all the ingredients with 3 tablespoons water. Set aside, or refrigerate if making ahead.
For the spinach chaat & assembly
  1. Combine the gram flour, rice flour, chaat masala, chilli powder, salt, and ¼ cup water in a bowl and whisk. Now add the remaining ½ cup water and whisk the batter until smooth and free of lumps.
  2. Heat the oil, about 7.5 cm (3 inches) deep in a wok or deep saucepan over medium-high heat. (Test the heat with a small drop of batter: if it falls to the bottom and pops up gradually, the oil is perfect; if the batter rises and browns too quickly the oil is too hot; and if the batter sinks and doesn’t rise, the oil is not hot enough.) Working in small batches to avoid overcrowding, dip the spinach leaves in the batter, then carefully lower the battered leaves into the pan in a single layer to cover the entire surface. (Be careful: the water content in the spinach may cause splattering.) Deep-fry for 2–3 minutes, using the spoon or skimmer to move the leaves around to prevent them from sticking together. Using the same tool, transfer the spinach to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  3. Repeat the process until all the leaves are fried, ensuring that the oil temperature is maintained at all times.
  4. Transfer the deep-fried spinach to four plates. Drizzle 2 tablespoons each of sweet yogurt sauce and tamarind chutney over each plate. Garnish with the red onion, tomatoes and pomegranate seeds, if using. Serve immediately before the spinach becomes soggy.
     

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