1bunch malabar spinach with the stalks or 5 packed cups of leaves * see notes
3/4cupblack eyed peas soaked overnight
salt to taste
For the masala
2long dried red chillies (Byadge)
3short dried red chillies (Harekala)
4-5clovesof garlic (with skin for grinding)
1gooseberry size ball of tamarind
2-3clovesgarlic for tempering
3teaspoonsoil for frying
Pluck the leaves from the stems, wash thoroughly & drain well. Set aside.
Select the very tender stalks and use them to cook along with the leaves. Select the not so tender ones and cut into 3" size pieces.
Discard the water in which the black eyed peas were soaked. Refresh with one change of water and then transfer them into a pressure cooker. Add 2 cups of water (approx) or enough to cover them. Add salt to taste & pressure cook for 2 whistles or till the peas are tender. Remove them and retain the water in the pressure cooker.
Add the spinach stalks and leaves to the same water, some extra water if required and pressure cook for only 1 whistle (if the leaves are big & thick). If the leaves are very tender then turn off the cooker before the whistle is let out (just when the hissing starts). When the pressure subsides, open the cooker and keep aside.
Dry roast the red chillies, coriander seeds, pepper, cumin, mustard one by one on a skillet till you get a nice aroma. Be careful not to burn any of the ingredients or they will taste bitter. Remove and let them cool.
To the same skillet add the onions, garlic and coconut and dry roast everything till you get a nice aroma. Remove and cool
Now grind the roasted spices, coconut mixture and tamarind to a fine paste using a little water. Remove the masala and rinse the grinder with a little water and set this water aside. This method of grinding the spices to powder first & then adding the wet ingredients ensures that your grinding process (if you are using a mixer grinder) is fast.
Add the ground masala to the cooked spinach and black eyed peas and adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding only as much reserved masala water as required. Simmer the curry for 2-3 minutes. Then remove the pan from heat.
In a smaller pan heat 3 teaspoons oil and toss in the crushed garlic cloves. Fry them till golden brown and pour this seasoning into the gravy
Serve hot with brown (unpolished) boiled rice and fish fry (optional).
In Konkani one batch of valche baji/spinach is called 'mouli', so if you are using a batch freshly plucked, you can use 1/2 of a large mouli of baji