Monday, 2 February 2015

Lai-Ki-sabji(Indian savory of Leafy Vegetable of Mustard family)

Lai I sabji
Lai is green leafy vegetable of mustard family grown in hills of Himalayan range. In summers it provides much needed warmth to the body. It is tangy and very tasty leafy vegetable. As Pahari people are very fond of potatoes so it is cooked with potatoes (I omit potatoes) or made with thick gravy with the milk of seeds called bhanga (Not to be confused with bhang). Bhanga is the seed of the plant called Hemp from which charas, ganja bhang is obtained but the seeds are used as condiment, which are not intoxicating and very delicious. Wild variety of the same plant does not provide edible seeds but only intoxicants. Thus is prohibited to grow in fields.. Even the cultivation of hemp is done in few places with govt. approval for much required seeds for the regular cooking in Kumaon hills.
In the absence of bhang groundnut milk is used which though does not give the same taste but is very delicious preparation. Our liking for this vegetable was so much that we used to get seeds from Kumaon and grow lai in our garden till we had an open space to grow vegetables. I could not take pic. of the leafs as I was impatient to cook this lovely vegetable.
Lai is rich in Iron, Vitamins and micro nutrients.

Preparation Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Servings: 4 Large servings

Ingredients Required For Making Lai-Ki-Sabji:
  • 10-12 Large leafs of fresh Lai
  • 2 Medium size potatoes(optional) 
  • 10 ml. Mustard oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 2 Whole Red Chilies broken to pieces
  • 1/4Teaspoon Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 1/2Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • Salt to taste
Directions For Making Lai-Ki-Sabji:
  • Remove the tough stem from the base of leafs.
  • Check for any infestation in the leafs if they are infested (Being a herb they grow near the soil this makes them prone to pest infestation), remove that part and clean them.
  • Wash the leafs in lots of water to make sure they are absolutely clean.
  • Cut leafs very fine, finer they are cut tastier is the cooked vegetable.
Finely cut Lai leafs
  • Peel and wash the potatoes.
  • Cut potatoes to small pieces.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottom wok (I use iron wok).
  • When the oil is smoking hot lower the flame and add
    • Cumin seeds
    • Broken whole red chilies
  • Let the seeds splutter and chili pieces become dark red. Do not let them to become black.
  • Add asafoetida and cook for 2-3 sec.
Tadka TEmparing ready)
  • Add potatoes and mix nicely.
  • Cover the wok and allow the potatoes to cook for 4-5 min. stirring 2-3 times.
  • Add finely cut Lai and mix. If not using potatoes then add the ali to the tempering dierectly.
Finely cut Lai added to tadka
  • Add
    • Turmeric powder
    • Salt
Salt and Turmeric added 
Mixed nicely to mix the oil and spices
  • Mix nicely and cover. Allow the vegetable to cook on low flame till the potatoes and leafy vegetable becomes soft. It will take 10-12 minutes. Stir the vegetable every 2-3 minutes else the lower portion which is in contact with wok will get over cooked whereas the upper portion will not get cooked.
Covered and cooking
  • The vegetable after cooking should not have any liquid but should not lose its moistness.
Ready for Serving
  • Serve the delicious Lai-Ki-Sabji with Dal, Chawal, Chutney and Kumaoni-Kheere-Ka-Raita.
Lai I sabji

Enjoy staple Kumaoni food full of taste and nutrition.

  • Always clean leafy vegetable with utmost care and wash them two or three times.
  • Break the whole red chili before adding else it will burst while cooking.
  • Iron wok enhances the taste.
  • Mustard oil is best but any other oil can be taken.
  • Donot over cook. If the vegetable color becomes very dark this is indication of over cooking.
  • To keep the color nice green of the cooked vegetable 1 teaspoon of lemon juice can be added to the vegetable when it is getting cooked.
Suggested variations:
  • The preparation with potatoes tastes very nice so they can be added I have omitted it so that diabetic people can also enjoy this preparation.
  • 10-15 gm. of ground nut can be made to paste then its milk can be taken out by adding 100 ml. water, and sieving. This milk can be added to the vegetable 2-3 min. before switching off the gas. After adding groundnut milk it should be cooked on high flame with constant stirring so that the vegetable thickens. Cook for 2-3 minutes and vegetable with groundnut milk is ready. (Coconut milk does not go well with it).
  • Paste of green chili can be added if you like spicy food. Red chili powder changes the color a bit but can be added.
  • Few leafs of spinach (Palak) can be added along with the lai leafs.
Happy healthy cooking and eating.

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