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 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 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.