Monday, 15 December 2014

The same old spinach!

Hailing from the part of the world that I do, I have been fortunate enough to listen to the one line stories that grandmothers tell their granddaughters.

These stories are very simple tales and can be related through one line that usually is understood by people who grow up there.

The tales are simple but the messages hidden are not!

Here is one such tale…

A farmer and his wife lived in a hut in a village called Mettupuram. Guna, the farmer and his wife Lakshmi lived all by themselves as they were childless.

Guna used to till the small, yet a fertile piece of land that he had inherited from his father.

Every changing season saw Guna grow a different variety of crops and Lakshmi used to take the excess to the market. She traded in the market either for money or for other household things that they required.

After many years, when both Guna and Lakshmi started growing old, they had to make do with lesser produce. Eventually, Guna became very weak and could only sow rice and cultivate rice that was sufficient for the two of them.

Lakshmi never complained. She was also getting older and she started cultivating spinach behind the small hut in which they lived. But this meant that they had only rice and spinach and nothing else.

Guna complained about the lack of variety in the food cooked by his wife, but Lakshmi had, by then, learnt to ignore his complaints.

One day Guna returned from the field unusually tired and drained. When Lakshmi presented rice and spinach, Guna was overcome by a fit of rage.

He picked up the vessel containing the spinach and hurled it towards the wall.

Silently Lakshmi left the scene and slept in the kitchen. An hour later she was woken up by her husband who still seemed angry.

“Oh old woman,” he screamed at her.

As Lakshmi woke up and sat Guna continued,

“You are so shameless! Now go and remove the spinach from the wall and serve me food,” he screamed.

Smiling to herself, Lakshmi did her best!

Author’s note:
The above story is an expansion of a Tamil saying “Soranaketta vallathi sevuthukeeraya vazhichu poodu,” which when translated means,

“Oh you shameless woman, serve me the spinach from the wall!”

There are quite a few messages that we get from this simple story. It throws light on the complexity of the marital relationship. Traditionally women are known to be patient and tolerant outwardly and intelligent in a more subtle and understated manner.

When the wife realised that her husband was unable to till the land efficiently, she starts growing spinach in the backyard. Spinach is known to control blood sugar levels and is rich in vitamins, iron and calcium. When had with rice it is a complete and balanced meal!

Growing spinach is also not very difficult. It is the presence of mind and self-control practised by women that kept marriages alive. Men realised this and in the end submitted their egos (though they were allowed to crib and complain) and ate humble spinach!

Here is an interesting and healthy recipe. Try the Spinach kichidi and stay healthy!

Spinach – 1 bunch
Moong Dal – 50gms
Raw rice- 250gms
Green Chilli – 2
Turmeric Powder – a pinch
Jeera – 1 tablespoon
Pepper – 4-5 powdered
Mustard seeds – a little
Curry leaves – a few
Coriander leaves – finely chopped
Onion – 1 finely chopped
Tomato -1 finely chopped
Ginger – 1 small piece
Ghee – 1 spoon (optional)
Salt- to taste
Oil – 1 tablespoon


Cook spinach with little salt. Grind and keep aside.

Cook spinach with salt...

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seed and Jeera. Wait till they splutter. Then add the curry leaves, turmeric powder, green chilli, chopped onions and tomato. Fry with a little salt. Add the spinach paste and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Wash and cook the yellow dal and rice with sufficient salt. For one measure of rice add 4 measures of water. Pressure cook for about 15 minutes or 4 - 5 whistles.

After the pressure settles, open the pan gently allowing the steam to escape away from you. Mix the spinach and masala paste with the cooked rice and dal.
Add the coriander leaves, ghee and pepper powder. Serve with curd/pickle.

P.S. Garam masala powder can be added optionally. 
Spinach kichidi is ready!