Patal Bhaji

Now that I am not traveling around as much and stressed out about job decisions, I have gotten back to cooking. I miss my mother’s cooking and frequently call home to check on recipes (to the point where my mother’s first question is sometimes “what do you want to cook today?”). I figured I’d post some recipes here occasionally. This recipe is for Patal Bhaji, a Maharashtrian comfort dish. Although there are a lot of ingredients, most of them are “pantry items,” at least in Indian kitchens.

Alas there are no pictures because it’s been eaten. I made the variety with chana dal because I seem to have a metric ton of chana dal at my apartment.

Patal Bhaji

1 bunch chopped spinach
3 tsp fenugreek leaves (methi)*
1/2 cup grated radish
2 Tbsp garbanzo flour (besan)
2 cups water
1 tsp tamarind paste (imli)
2 tsp jaggery (gud)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup dry coconut [optional]
1 Tbsp ground roasted coriander (dhaniya)
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds (mohri/rai/sarson)
2 dry red chili pods (mirch)
1 tsp cumin (jeera)
2 pinches asafoetida (hing)
1 tsp chili powder (tikhat)
2 tsp turmeric (halad/haldi)

Cook spinach, fenugreek and radish in a dry pot with salt until spinach wilts and radish softens. Meanwhile, mix garbanzo flour, water, tamarind, jaggery, peanuts, and coconut, and coriander together. Add to the cooked spinach and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.

In a small pot heat oil until smoking and add mustard seeds. When they are popping add chili, then wait a few seconds and add cumin. Add asafoetida followed by chili and turmeric, mix quickly and then pour spice mixture into pot, being careful of spattering.

Substitution ideas:

  • Salt and chilis etc are to taste
  • Brown sugar for jaggery (to taste)
  • Dry fenugreek (qasuri methi) is easier to get than fresh
  • Cooked chana dal (or a mix of chana and moong dal) can be added to the liquid mix to replace or augment the besan. However, be careful that it doesn’t dry out too much — you want it to be a little liquidy
  • Cashews can be used in place of peanuts.
  • Add masala (Goda masala) at the end if you want.
  • Optional add-ons to the cooked spices : fenugreek seeds, garlic…

4 thoughts on “Patal Bhaji

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