I had never eaten collard greens before I moved to the United States. When I did start eating them, I'd usually buy them frozen and then saute them with some simple spices like mustard and green chilies. But while I liked them enough, I wasn't really moved. Also, the fact that they take extra-long to cook put them somewhere at the bottom of my list of green favorites.
Then I found a recipe that intrigued me. It came from Madhur Jaffrey's fabulous cookbook "World Vegetarian," and, surprise of surprises, it was a recipe for a Kashmiri-style preparation.
This recipe takes a long time to cook: almost 2 hours. But all the ingredients go into the pot right at the beginning and you don't have to babysit them. So after I get back from work, I can throw together the ingredients into the pot, slap on a lid, go out and water the garden and then walk my dogs without a care in the world. Meanwhile, the collards cook themselves. The most you might need to do is check a couple of times to make sure not all the water's evaporated before its time.
The collards are hefty, so although the long cooking tenderizes them, it doesn't reduce them to a mush. They retain a wonderful texture and bite, and absorb all the myriad flavors of the spices and tomatoes.
I loved this recipe, and I know it's one I will be making again and again. Here goes!
Kashmiri Collard Greens
(adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian)
5-6 large collard leaves, stems removed, then rolled up and cut into long, skinny ribbons
1 tomato, dunked into boiling water for a minute, then peeled and diced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 1/2 cups water
Heat the oil and add the onions. Saute on medium heat until nicely browned.
Add the ginger and garlic and stir for a minute.
Add the tomato and stir for another minute.
Add the collard greens, salt, red chilli powder and water.
When it comes to a boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid, turn the heat to low, and allow the veggies to simmer away for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
If there is still water remaining at the bottom of the pan, turn the heat to medium or high and let it evaporate.
Serve hot as a side dish with rice and dal or with rotis.
[collard greens subzi]