My friend Eli sent me a copy of Meera Sodha’s East as a birthday present this month, and thus far I’ve found it to be terrifically compatible with my veg box. One of our principles here at Locavore is that using locally grown veg doesn’t mean being limited by the local cuisine- you can use the wonderful fresh things we can grow right here to make food inspired by cooking done all over the world. East offers recipes based on those from across Asia but is rooted, also, in the delicious and deliciously varied veg we have right here.
The recipe I’m sharing today is an adaptation of one from East, and I thoroughly recommend getting your hands on a copy of the book to see the original. Mine differs primarily because of what I had in the fridge. The original calls for 500g of kale, but our veg box portions are a tad bit under 200g, so I knew I needed to find a way to balance that out. Since this week’s boxes are full of chard, I decided to combine the two. It works brilliantly- the kale retaining a little toothiness here and there while the chard melts away into the sauce. This a rich, creamy, flavourful, and veg-packed dinner that can be adapted to suit the contents of your weekly veg box- just sub in your spring greens or spinach.
ghee (or a neutral oil, like sunflower or rapeseed)
1 packet paneer- about 250g
4 cloves garlic
1-2 green chillies
ginger, about the size of a large thumb.
1 tin tomatoes- plum or chopped as your cupboards dictate
1 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds or ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds or ground cumin
1/2-1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
300ml double cream
Finely chop the onions. Heat a big lidded frying pan over a low heat and melt a tablespoon of ghee. Add the onions, stir, and cook until really soft and beginning to brown. This will take about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, crush or mince your garlic, grate your ginger, and finely chop your green chillies. When the onions have cooked, add these to the pan, stir, and cook for a few more minutes.
If you’re using chopped tomatoes, add them to the pan. If plum, give them a whizz in the blender or a food processor, or chop into pieces with a knife before adding to the pan. Stir, and allow to simmer.
Give the kale and chard a good wash, then seperate leaf from stem. Discard the stems. Use a food processor to shred the greens very fine. you don’t have a food processor, you can use a sharp knife to chop them very finely.
When the tomato mixture has thickened and is beginning to darken, add the spices and salt. Stir through, allow to cook for a minute or two, then add the greens. Add about a tablespoon of water, cover, and allow to cook for about ten minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the paneer into 2cm cubes. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add another spoonful of ghee or oil. Fry the cubes of paneer, turning often, until golden on all sides.
Add the cream to the sauce, stir through, then add the paneer. Allow to cook for about another ten minutes, and then serve over rice, or with roti.
Recipe adapted from East by Meera Sodha, published by Penguin Fig Tree in 2019. Avaliable from all good booksellers, including here from Hive, which supports independent bookshops.