Malabar spinach or “vaali” in Konkani is supposedly high in calcium and iron. It is available not just in Indian stores here, but also in Oriental stores. The leaves are slightly thicker than spinach and it has a mild flavor. The classic Konkani recipe for vaali is “Vaali Ambat”, a coconut based curry, seasoned with onions. This particular dish is unique and I had not eaten it while growing up. This is my mother-in-law’s recipe and she said the combination was suggested to her by her dad – Rajesh’s grandfather. Rajesh loves this dish and he has a sentimental attachment to it since he really looked up to his grandfather.
- Malabar spinach/Vaali - 1 lb
- Tender cashew nuts/Bibbo - 1 cup
- Onion - 1, finely chopped
- Oil - 2 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
- Roasted red chillies - 5
- Byadgi red chillies - 3
- Tamarind paste - 1/2 tsp
- Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Soak cashew nuts for a couple of hours or if you have time, overnight. Peel the skin and set the cashew nuts aside.
Separate the vaali leaves from the stalks and chop the leaves and stalks separately and set aside.
Pressure cook the cashew nuts and the stalks together for exactly one whistle.
Blend the masala ingredients to a smooth paste.
Heat oil. Put in the chopped onions. Fry till translucent.
Add the blended masala and fry for 5 minutes.
Put in the vaali leaves and the cooked cashew nuts and stalks. Mix well.
Add salt to taste. Cover and cook till the vaali leaves are soft and cooked.
Serve hot with rice and Daalithoi or it tastes good with rotis too.
- I pressure cooked the stalks with the cashew nuts because the stalks looked a little chewy to me.
- If the stalks are tender, there is no need to pressure cook them. You can cook them with the leaves.
- Malabar spinach is available in Indian stores where it is called “Poi” and in Oriental stores where it is called “Saan Choy”.
- Tender cashew nuts are rarely available in Indian stores, we get them from India, you could experiment by soaking cashew nuts.