This can also be used for Nettle Soup. Although it is not the right time of year for Nettle Soup. You’ll have to wait till next spring! However, if you do grow lots of spinach this is one of my all time favourite recipes. It combines spinach with curried rice. A real winner all round!
- Three handfuls of spinach
- 1 litre of water (for the soup)
- Rice – two handfuls (one handful per person)
- Water – estimate for the rice. I’ll show you how!
- Spices: Cardamom (1 pod is enough), cloves (2 or 3), pepper seeds, cinnamon, garam masala, mustard seeds (everything in small quantities – half a teaspoon per handful of rice). If you can’t get any of the above, just use a teaspoon of curry powder per handful of rice.
- Salt to taste or a stock cube of your choice
- Fresh garlic (optional)
- Cook the rice. This is the recipe for a bryani/pilau rice. It is so easy to make it is like falling off a log. Here’s how.
- In a saucepan, heat some oil till it is fairly hot, but not smoking. Throw in the spices/curry powder you are using. Fry for about ten seconds. Make sure it doesn’t burn. Take the pan off the fire if it start to burn. The frying releases the oils and flavours.
- Put your rice and fry it for another minute or so till the rice is coated in oil and spices.
- Then put in the water to cook the rice. The way my mother taught me was an inch of water just over the rice. Add a bit of salt to give it a flavour.
- Now is the most important part. Get a fitting lid and put it over the rice, when the water has boiled, turn it down to simmer. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID, DO NOT STIR THE RICE. It is the steam that cooks the rice and the steam rises through the natural tunnels which are created by the water and rice. If you stir the rice the tunnels are destroyed and the rice will not be fluffy.
- Watch the rice so that the water doesn’t overboil, keep it at a simmer. If the pot overboils you can just take the lid off and keep it over the pot loosely so it doesn’t do that again. But get a pot which is large enough so that it won’t overboil and you’ll be golden.
- It should be done in twenty minutes or so. You can remove the lid after ten minutes to see if everything’s ok. If the rice is still a bit crunchy and there is no more water left, add a bit of water to complete the cooking. When it is done, leave the lid on, turn off the heat and then let the rice finish cooking off in its own steam. The rice should smell amazing now.
- Take the spinach and blitz it with some water. It will now be an amazing green liquid.
- In a new pot, put the spinach liquid and bring to a boil. If you want, you can add a garlic clove, but it won’t be necessary BECAUSE, when your rice is cooked, and your soup is ready, put the rice into the soup and then let it simmer for a few minutes.
- Your Spianch and Rice Curry soup! If you have paneer, you can put it in now… maybe tomorrow I’ll do how to cook paneer.
As you are cooking, you can let your child taste the spices and talk about where they came from! It’s very interesting to see how disgusted they are when it is in concentrated amounts, but how when worked through the food these small amounts bring the entire dish to life. There is a lesson in there somewhere… maybe less is more? Good things come in small doses?
Also you can talk about rice and how it is one of the seven grains of the world. The best thing about this recipe is that there is no chilli so kids can eat it. IF you want to zing it up you can add ginger (sliced like matchsticks and fried with the spices) or fresh cut chili at this stage as well.
It is full of iron and the various spices have protective qualities e.g. cloves are good for digestion, as is garam masala, cardamom is good for dental hygiene and has anti bacterial properties. All spices are good really.
You can also talk about India, as a country, it’s gods and culture, animals there – cooking is an entry to the whole world!