Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sai Bhaji

When we lived in Ghana we had quite a number of Sindhi friends and they would cook these yummy delicious Sindhi food. One of the Sindhi dishes that really made an impression on us was Sai Bhaji.

Sai Bhaji became part of our menu whenever we had some spinach on hand. Sai mean green and the Bhaji means vegetable, so this green vegetable is not only tasty but healthy and wholesome too.

I have adapted my mom's recipe to the ingredients available here . Generally along with spinach a couple of other sour tasting green leaves are used, as those were not available to me I substituted with tamarind concentrate and some kasturi methi  ( dried fenugreek leaves).

The Sai Bhaji tasted great, just like I remembered it and everybody loved it at home. I served it with some hot steaming rice. You can also have it with warm rotis. So if you have some spinach at hand and want to try something new with it, try Sai Bhaji, you will not regret it.

Sai Bhaji

serves 4


1 lb / about 500 gms Spinach Leaves, washed and chopped
3 tbsp channa dal / bengal gram dal, soaked in water for 30 minutes
2 + 1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped + 1 clove of garlic sliced
1 inch of ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp kasturi methi / fenugreek leaves ( if you have fresh ones you can use that also)
1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 large potato, chopped into cubes
1 chinese eggplant, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp jeera / cumin seeds
1-2 whole dried red chilies (optional)
1/2 to 1 cup water
salt to taste


There are two ways to cook this - one, in a pressure cooker and another way is directly on stove in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. I will give both the methods here.
  1. Rinse the channa dal / bengal gram dal ( you can get that from your local Indian grocer) and soak it until the water just covers the dal. Keep aside for 30 minutes. We rinse the dal first so as to wash away any dirt or pesticides sprayed on it.
  2. In a heavy bottomed, large saucepan or your pressure cooker pot, heat 2 tbsp oil. To it add the ginger, garlic and chopped onions.
  3. Saute the onions till they turn pale brown. Add the turmeric powder, red chili powder and coriander powder, the chopped potatoes, carrots and chinese eggplant. Stir the whole mixture once and to it add the dal, the chopped spinach and tamarind concentrate. Put 1/2 cup of water if cooking in the pressure cooker or 1 cup of water if cooking in a saucepan.
  4. Cover the lid of the saucepan and let it cook on medium low heat till the dal has cooked .
  5. If using the pressure cooker, place the lid and whistle / weight to the pressure cooker and cook on medium high heat till it gives out 2 whistles and then take it of the heat. Once the pressure is gone open up the cooker and  if there is too much water put it back on medium heat, without the lid, to cook out some of the water. The dish consistency should be thick and not too watery.
  6. Add salt to taste. Now for the tempering ( see note below ).
  7. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil and when hot add the cumin seeds, garlic slices and a whole dried red chili . Fry for few seconds as the garlic changes color to pinkish brown and then pour this whole thing over the sai bhaji. Stir it and it is ready to serve with hot rotis or a steaming bowl of cooked basmati rice.
Note : Tempering or tadka or baghaar as it is called in certain parts of India, is a process where oil is heated and spices are fried in it, this oil is then added to the dish at the end of the cooking process. This step add a special flavor to the dish.

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