Singhalese-style Greens

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A few days ago, I posted a picture of some greens I was cooking on FB. As promised, here’s a little blog post with the recipe. I titled the post “Singhalese-style Greens” and I’d like to explain that, if I may. My mum’s family is Singhalese from Sri Lanka. My grandparents immigrated to Malaysia in the 1920s, and thus while we are half-Singhalese (my Dad’s family is from Kerala, not to confuse the issue) we are also Malaysian. Since this is a blog about Malaysian cooking by a Malaysian woman, some of you may wonder why I am calling this “Singhalese-style Greens” and why I am including a Singhalese recipe in a Malaysian blog?! In answer to the first question, my Mum is the only person I’ve ever known to cook greens in this particular way and so I am surmising that it is a recipe that she learned from her mum and thus calling it a Shinghalese-style dish (family members, feel free to correct me!) The answer to the second question is easy – I am including this recipe in a blog about Malaysian food because to me, the concept of Malaysian cuisine includes the cultural cooking of all the different races in Malaysia in either organic, decades-old fusion with each other or as stand-alone dishes. Isn’t that the very essence of the greatness of Malaysian cuisine? And my very last reason, and possibly the most important one of all for writing a blog post featuring this recipe is BECAUSE IT’S JUST FREAKIN’ AWESOME and I want you all to try it. (Oh no, are we allowed to say “freakin” in a blog post?)

Singhalese-Style Greens (serves 6)

1 large bunch kale, collards or chard (about 2lbs)

2 tablespoons coconut oil (or other neutral oil of your choice)

6 cloves garlic – finely chopped

1 red onion – sliced

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek

1/4 to 1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tablespoon shredded coconut (unsweetened)

Salt to taste

1. Wash greens and shake to remove excess water. Cut leaves and stems crosswise into 1/2″ strips.

2. Heat oil in a large pot or wok over medium high heat.

3. Add onions, garlic, fenugreek and mustard. Fenugreek? WTH is that, you ask? It’s a small, rectangular shaped seed that is very aromatic and generally used to flavor vegetable and fish dishes. Here’s a pic of some fenugreek with some mustard seeds on the right. Fry until fragrant and the onions have wilted – about two minutes. Fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds

4. Add the cut up greens by the handful. Add as much as will fit into the pot/wok, wait a minutes for this to wilt, then add more – until you are able to get it all to fit in your pot. With every handful that you add, use tongs to bring the wilted greens up to the top and move the uncooked greens down to the bottom of the pot.

5. Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water, then cover and turn heat down to medium-low. Let the greens cook until tender, about 20 – 25 minutes depending on how finely you sliced them and how tough they were to begin with.

Kale cooking in wok with red onion. Williams Sonoma spatula. 6. Finally, add the salt, powdered turmeric and shredded coconut. Toss well to combine. Serve

Kale cooking in wok, with powdered turmeric and shredded coconut

If you do make this, come back and let me know how you did and how you liked it, will you? Happy Cooking! – Auria

For previous recipes for cooking greens, look here.