I'm one of those people who'd always dreamed of a Family Freezer. Something that I could keep in the garage and use to take advantage of seasonal sales. Finally after years of dithering around about it, I bit the bullet and bought one. I also bought a vacuum sealer so that I could insure that everything would stay fresh, and a number of glass, stacking, freezer containers for soups and dals that could be easily thawed, heated and served.
What else is in my magical freezer? Fresh frozen grated coconut, frozen lotus root slices, frozen methei (fenugreek greens), curry leaves, kaffir lime leaves and an unending supply of organic frozen chopped spinach.
Considering where I live, the exotics are easily explainable, the spinach not so much. I usually buy fresh organic spinach, but of all the things that I might store in the freezer, the thing I get the most use out of for in-a-pinch cooking are small boxes of frozen organic spinach. They are as unendingly useful to me as those small bags of chopped 99 cent cabbage I always keep on hand.
They're always good for filling out a plate and are a great ingredient to be included in any number of Indian dishes. One of my favorite is one that I use to fill out a buffet, and that is Spinach Pachardi.
Pachadis are South Indian dishes, they're sort of like raitas but not quite. They can be eaten as a relish with stuff like dosas or idili, or served on a buffet as a cold vegetable side dish. For years I've made a wonderful mango pachadi and plenty of vegetables besides spinach can be used. But when I looked at my Indian buffet a week or so ago I decided I needed one more thing to fill out the table, and spinach was of course what I had at the last minute.
So a Spinach Pachadi was what I made. It was a spicy side dish that everyone loved, and best of all it was fast and easy. So if you're caught needing just one more thing on the table at the very last minute and all you have is some frozen spinach...
Kerala Spinach Pachadi
...here's what to do:
First of all, defrost 1 10z box of frozen chopped spinach.
When the oil is hot toss in:
2 tsp of cumin seeds
2 tsp of urad dal
As the dal cooks, it'll turn a reddish color. As soon as that happens add in:
15-20 curry leaves
2 whole dried red chilies broken in half
2/3 cup of finely chopped shallots
2 fresh green serrano chilies very thinly sliced
2/3 cup of fresh grated coconut.
In a seperate bowl, whip 4 cups of plain yogurt until it's smooth and creamy.
Add in the spinach mixture and you're done.
Now here's where you can go two ways. Serve it as I did as a vegetable side dish or you can serve it as a relish with other dishes. The spinach can either be served cold, or if you're running out of room in the fridge (like me) at room temperature.
So there you have it, a quick spinach side dish.