The monsoons are here, and along with endless rounds of chai and pakoras or wada pav; I get really excited about all the fresh, seasonal leafy veggies that arrive in the local vegetable market. Veggies such as takla, khapar futi, ambadi, ghol, pohi (Malabar spinach), kalmi (water spinach), laal maath (red amaranth); typically known as ‘pavsali bhajya’ in Marathi or vegetables that only grow around the monsoons; are quite a treat with their unique flavors and freshness. Most of them are harvested from wild shrubs and are packed with a lot of nutrients. The best way to consume them would be to make a simple stir fry with chilies, onion and garlic.
While I like quite a few of these vegetables in the simplest form, I was never really a fan of Laal Maath because it has this sort of strong flavor once stir-fried, that does not really agree too well with my palate. Nevertheless, Laal Maath is extremely rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins (like folate, B6, K and C), iron, calcium and is a rich source of dietary fibre; which means I must definitely include it in my family’s and my diet, even though I wasn’t a big fan. However, sometime last year, I happened to taste this Konkani style preparation with Laal Maath, tamarind and coconut milk, called amshi (means a sour curry in Konkani) that I absolutely loved. The strong smell that I disliked, was perfect masked by the acid from the kokum or tamarind extract and the sweetness from the coconut milk.
I tried replicating what I ate using the recipe below as soon as I found a fresh bunch of Laal Maath with my local vegetable vendor for this season. Went well with jowar bhakris, but I feel it would go better with rice bhakris.
One bunch (~500g) of Red Amaranth (Laal Maath) leaves, washed, drained and patted dry;
3 green chilies, slit;
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced;
Extract from 4-5 pieces of Kokum (Garcinia indica) or 3-4 pods of tamarind;
1 cup thin coconut milk;
4-5 dried red chilies;
A handful of curry leaves;
½ tsp chopped jaggery;
½ tsp cumin seeds;
½ tsp mustard seeds,
A pinch of asafetida;
Salt to taste;
1 tbsp Oil.