Nov 5, 2006

Malabaar Spinach Curry ( vaali ambaT)


vaaLi in Konkani or basaLe in kannada is a green leafy vegetable available in Mangalore area. Its a kind of spinach but the leaves are thick, succulent and has a tender edible stem. It grows as a creeper, and usually grown on a structure to hold the vine called vaaLi mantap much like how grapes are grown in the vineyards. In Mangalore and surrounding areas they are sold along with the creepers, the leaves and the tender stem is used in the curries while the hard part o f the stem is discarded or planted to grow more.

I did some research on the Internet and found its called by different names - Malabar spinach, Ceylon spinach, saan choy, alogbati, mong toi, Vietnamese spinach. In USA, its available in most of the Chinese/Asian supermarkets under the name mong toi.

vaaLi ambat

vaaLi ambaT is a curry with coconut gravy with roasted onion seasoning. One of my favorite konkani delicacies.

1 bunch malabaar Spinach/vaaLi.
1/4 cup tuvar Dal
1 cup shredded fresh coconut
6-8 dry red chillies
1/2 inch cube tamarind
1 onion
1 tsp oil

Snip the leaves of vaaLi from the stem. Retain the stem if its tender, discard any hard stem. Wash and rinse, chop the leaves, cut the stem 3 inches long. Set aside. Finely chop half the onion for the seasoning. and the other half a bit bigger.

In a tsp of oil roast the red chillies. Grind coconut, red chillies and tamarind to a smooth paste. The masala or paste is called maasolu in konkani.

Cook tuvar dal in a pressure cooker. Transfer the dal to a sauce pan, add chopped vaaLi, cook for 10minutes till the stems are cooked. Add salt and coconut masala. Chop half the onion and add to the curry. Continue to cook for another 10minutes.

For the seasoning, finely chop the other half of onion. Fry the onions in a tsp of oil under low flame till its completely golden brown. Add to the curry, cover and set aside.

Serve with rice.

The curry can be made with spinach too. Just substitute the vaaLi with spinach. Tastes very similar, one can hardly find out the difference.


Anonymous said...

vali ambat is my favorite too... we sometime give it garlic seasoning instead of onion. Simply great...

Anonymous said...

Nice recipe. we add raw papaya too in the vaali ambat. it tastes heavenly:)

Manjula said...

Hi Shilpa,
I give a garlic seasoning for vaali tingaLavare bendi. Bendi is similar as ambat, but with tigaLavare instead of dal.

Hi Nandini,
Will try this next time when I get lucky to find vaali & raw papaya at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Manjula,

I tried this recipe of yours. Taste was great. I have a question, when i cooked vaali, it was a little sticky like "bhende", is there any way to avoid that? It was not very prominent, but i could still notice it. I used Vietnamese spinach.

Manjula said...

Nayak Mayi,
I do not do anything to avoid the sticky liquid. It usually goes off after adding the masolu.
In bhende recipes tamarind helps in removing the stickiness. Guess the same thing happens here too.

Vidyu said...

vaali ambat is our family favorite and my amma's recipe calls for 2 tbsp. of fried corriander (dhania) seeds and 1/4 tsp fried methi seeds while grinding the coconut. the rest of the recipe is the same.
and vaali can be substituted with spinach too :)

Manjula said...

Will surely try adding corainder and methi next time. Yeah, me too substitute vaaLi with spinach in all recipes. One of my aunt visiting from India could not make out the difference!! But I can always tell. :)

Supriya said...

I Love this recipe.. Thank you for sharing it

Supriya said...

I love this recipe.. Thank u for sharing