So here we go… Palakura in Telugu translates to Spinach. Vepudu in Telugu translates to Fry, hence this is a “Spinach Fry” dish. At this point you must be wondering how I would know a thing or two about Andhra dishes, right?
The story… one of my best friend’s, Anu, is Telugu. I’ve been going over to her house for the last 8 years, mainly to hangout with her, however each time I’d leave her home feeling satiated. Her mom is a brilliant cook! I totally believe she could own a restaurant. She introduced me to spices I did not know existed… curry pata, fenugreek seeds, dry red chillies, tamarind juice.. and the list goes on and on. I’d have to say Anu’s mom definitely influenced me in learning a lot about South Indian cooking. Prior to meeting Anu, I assumed South Indian food meant Idli and Dosa, so not the case. Aside from Punjabi cusine (hey, we stay true to our food), Andhra cusine has got to be my favorite cusine from India. The melody of flavors, the spicyness, the sweetness, the sourness, all these flavors comprise to make one unique dish. My tolerance for really really spicy food went up when I started eating Andhra food. So thanks to Anu, and her Mom, for all the great food over the last 8 years and for the knowledge.
In Andhra dishes, milk/yogurt are often used to balance out the flavors and the spice level. This dish uses milk… which is optional. I now bring you… Spinach Fry, Andhra style!
NUTRITION: Spinach is loaded with tons of nutrients. It is rich in Vitamins A, C, and K, and is an excellent source of Iron and Folic Acid. Spinach is also a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Oil – 1.5 – 2 tbsp (you need this due to the number of seeds in this dish)
- Green Chillies – 3 (chopped)
- Garlic – 3 cloves (grated)
- Ginger – 1/2 inch piece (grated)
- Curry Pata – 8 leaves
- Red Onion – 1 medium (chopped)
- Bengal Gram (Chana Dal) – 2 tsp
- Black Gram (Urad Dal) – 2 tsp
- Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
- Dhaniya Powder – 2 tsp
- Red Chili Powder – 1/4 – 1/2 tsp
- Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
- Fresh Spinach – 10 oz. bag OR 2 bunches (chopped)
- Milk 1%/2% – 1/4 to 1/2 cup (I used 1/2 cup)
- Garam Masala – 1/4 tsp
- salt to taste
1. Chop the onions and green chillies. Grate the ginger and garlic.
2. Get your spices together. You will need to work fast.
3. Heat oil in a medium pot on low-medium heat, dial 4. Add the Chana and Urad dals. Saute until dals start changing color.
4. Add the Cumin and Mustard seeds. Saute for a few seconds.
5. Add the curry pata and green chillies. Be careful, it’ll splutter.
6. After 30 seconds or so, add the onions, grated ginger and garlic.
7. Once the onions are slightly golden, about 5 minutes, add the powders… Dhaniya powder, Chili powder, Turmeric powder, and salt. Cook for about 5 more minutes, until the onions are golden-brown.
8. In the meantime, chop the spinach.
9. This is how the onion mixture should be.
10. Add the spinach and salt. Stir. This will wilt in about 2 minutes.
11. See… you can never have enough spinach 🙁
12. Close the pot and allow the spinach to cook down for about 10 minutes.
13. This is what you should have.
14. Add milk. I used 1/2 cup to have a little gravy. This balanced out the spice in the dish.
15. Cook WITHOUT a lid for another 5 minutes.
16. Add garam masala and turn off the stove. Let the flavors combine and serve after 15 minutes. I prefer this dish with rice, but it goes well with roti, too. Enjoy!