Pui saag, bengali style

Pui saag or Malabar spinach stir fried with bitter gourd, eggplant and tomatoes in smoky mustard oil with steamed parboiled rice makes a comforting meal.

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This deliciously, hearty stir fry was taught to me by our Bengali helper who has been with my parents since 25 years. He is such an integral part of the family that I had to write this dish dedicated to him.

I was unaware of Bengali cuisine until he introduced me to several of them which his father cooked for him in his village. This particular one stands out for me as I had never eaten pui saag before and loved it when he cooked in generous amounts of mustard oil and served with parboiled rice.

Pui saag, bengali style
Pui saag, bengali style

Growing up in a Gujarati household, mustard oil was unheard of and for the uninitiated, the mustard oil can be very strong. But I was hooked to its taste when he taught me the trick of using the oil was to heat it to the smoky point. And now, years after, mustard oil has become one of my favorite oils to cook with. My vegetarian thukpa recipe as well as Nepalese vegetable momos require mustard oil to bring that unique flavour profile to the dish.

Pui saag, bengali style
Pui saag, bengali style

My version is a heavy adaptation of his recipe with few changes. I have used much lesser oil than him and also didn’t do ‘tadka’ (tempering) twice. In his recipe, he stir fried all veggies with the oil first with turmeric and salt and then did the tempering again with the whole spices. He also discarded the stems, using only leaves for the stir fry as stems can be fibrous.

My own two bits – don’t discard the stems, just choose wisely. The trick is to bend the stems while you are cleaning the pui saag, if it doesn’t snap, discard. If it snaps, it is tender to use and won’t be fibrous when stir fried with all the veggies.

I hope you will like this unique preparation. If you make it, I would love to know your feedback. Please comment below or tag me on social media with your creation.

Some other recipes that may interest you:

  1. Dhansak (vegetarian), Parsi style
  2. Kantola nu shaak, Gujarati style
  3. Kathiywadi ringna nu shaak (eggplant mash with peanuts and moringa leaves)
  4. Spinach rice with makhana kadhi
  5. Fried rice Pad Thai style

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Let me know how this recipe turned out for you by writing to me in the comments below. And if you take a picture, please tag me on my instagram handle @acookwithin to share your creation😊 It would make my day!

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