Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kolmi Shak Bhaja- Ung Choi/Water Spinach stir/fry with garlic and dry red pepper

I was happy to notice a familiar Shak or green leaves this time in a nearby superstore here, but then again the name on the cover said something else. Ung Choi or Ong Choy (Ipomea  aquatica-Asian water spinach) is a familiar green leaf in many Chinese,Vietnamese and Thai stir/fry recipes, and it reminded me of our kolmi shak.But then these two, seems to me are same but native names little different.Actually My Ma says “Kolmi shak “ is a water plant or grows in marshy area such as near swamp pond , so it should be consumed less, now I really don’t know what logic goes behind that, but even with that if’s and buts, she still feels this shak bhaja has that earthy flavor , and nothing can go wrong with a simple stir/fry recipe.But on the contrary in my parent-in-laws home, this in fact is quite frequent summer recipe, often eaten with warm cooked rice as first course, where the elaborate summer meal would generally consists of a mong dal,kolmi shak bhaja or any other shak bhaja ,rui macher jhol /fish curry  and amer ambol/sweet and sour mango.And yes to be honest I have done that all cooking in one go and many countless number of times.

 Its being ages here that I have made kolmi shak and eaten it.So, today no more ramblings as of now, just straight to the recipe, for this lets say, the simplicity of kolmi shak bhaja stands out among all other fancy things one can possibly apprehend in life.
To the recipe now 
Kolmi Shak bhaja-Ung Choi-Ong Choy stir/fry with garlic and dry red pepper/red chillies
Recipe requirements
  • 1 bunch of Ung choi/Ong Choy/Kalmi shak – 300gms approx
  • ½ tsp of salt or to taste
  • 2 dry red pepper/red chillies
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • ½ tsp of kalunji/kalo jeerey/nigella seeds or panch phoron
  • 2 tbs of mustard oil/canola/corn oil

  • Clean the leaves and chop off 2 inch from the base of each stem.Now chop it roughly.
  • Clean the chopped leaves in ample water to get ird of dirt or mud if any.Drain the water with chopped leaves over a colander.

  • Now heat up a fry pan/saucepan, add cooking oil, temper-phoron t with kalunji/nigellla seeds, chopped garlic and dry red pepper.Let the garlic roast well almost, brown in colour or until burnt garlic smell hits your nose.
  • Now add in dry red pepper and finely chopped onions.Keep frying till the onions almost changes to light brown-about 7-8 mints at med-high flame.
  • Now add in chopped Ung choi leaves or kolmi shak.It will release water.Let the water evaporates and keep on stir/frying the green vegetables till they shrink in volume or release lots of water.Cover it and put the flame to medium –gas mark 4 or 5.Then let it slowly cook well.After about 8-10 mints, open the cover and then keep on doing usual stir/fry for about 3-4 mints.Stop the cooking and serve with warm cooked ice, alternately you can even have it with rotis or chappati.

Note- To make it even more interesting, one can add small shrimp to the above stir/fry recipe.But traditionally I don't think chingri is added, but then it's up to us how we like to eat and eating should be a pleasure.Few tsp of ghee can also be added to enhance the flavour.A Chinese stir/fry recipe can also be done with Kolmi shak using chili-soya sauce and ginger -honey sauce-kind of sweet-hot-sour preparation or even simple blanched Ung Choi with few tsp of butter-still crisp but edible makes a delightful side-dish or even with cooked Chinese egg  noodles.

Happy cooking friends