Leafy vegetables or greens are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, particularly folic acid, iron, beta-carotene, magnesium, calcium and lutein. These edible plant leaves are a powerhouse of nutrients and are crucial for adults, as well as growing children. Collard greens, radish greens, kale, mustard greens, watercress, spinach, fenugreek and iceberg lettuce are some of the most common types of greens.
Greens are normally cooked along with the tender shoots and stalks. The stalks and shoots are indigestible but are required for better bowel movement. We commonly refer to them as roughage. It should not be discarded during cleaning since it is an important source of dietary fiber and aids digestion.
South Asians cannot do without greens in their diet and have different ways to cook them. Frying any vegetable will kill its nutritional value. By far, the best method to cook greens is to steam them. In fact, this is the best way to cook any vegetable, in order to retain all the nutrients.
However, not everyone is fond of plain steamed greens since they taste quite bitter. Here is an interesting way to cook greens without allowing the bitter flavor to spoil your meal.
- First, get your ingredients together. You will need 3 bunches of any greens of your choice, 1 bunch of fresh coriander leaves, one long green chilli slit down the middle, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 teaspoons of cooking oil, ½ onion and salt to taste.
- Chop the onion and set aside. Take both the greens and coriander and break the leaves with a little of the stalks as well. Place them in a large bowl. Add a teaspoon of salt and fill the bowl with water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Wash the greens well in a colander. During the monsoon seasons in India, the greens sold here carry a good amount of soil in them. In some households, the greens are ritualistically washed ten times.
- Once the greens are clean, chop them up quickly. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed wok. Add the garlic and slit green chilli and stir fry till fragrant. Tip in the onions and fry until golden.
- Add salt to taste. Add the chopped greens. Mix it well with the fried onion. Cover the wok with a lid. It should take around 8-10 minutes for the greens to cook.
- Remove the lid and check whether the greens are done. Once done, remove from the stove and serve hot along with Indian flat bread like chapatis or long white rice.
Tips and Warnings
- When you cook greens, you will notice that they give out water. You don’t need to add any, simply allow them to cook in their own juices but make sure you stir from time to time, to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the wok.
- Cleaning your veggies with a combination of salt and water is a good way to rid them of dirt. It also somewhat reduces the presence of pesticides, which are all to liberally sprayed on fields.
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