Indian dishes are often created in counterpoint to one another. Meeru Dhalwala, co-owner of Shanik restaurant in Seattle as well as Vij's and Rangoli in Vancouver, adds a bit of brown sugar to this curry since she developed it to accompany a tart tamarind chickpea curry. "I believe in the ultimate pleasure of a dish that is sweet, sour, salty, and bitter," she says.
1 pound stemmed kale (from about 3 lbs. whole bunch)
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp. minced jalapeño chile
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
How to Make It
In a large, heavy pot or wok with a lid, melt ghee over medium heat. Meanwhile, chop greens roughly and rinse. "You can use just one or a combination of greens. And ghee gives the greens richness, but you can use any cooking oil instead."
Sprinkle in cumin seeds, swirl pot to spread, and let sizzle 30 seconds.
Stir in garlic and sizzle until pale golden, 10 to 20 seconds. Stir in chile and ginger; cook 30 seconds. "I brown the garlic for a toasty flavor, then add the moist ginger and chile to stop the toasting before it gets too dark." Add turmeric and salt and cook 1 minute. Stir in brown sugar.
Cook until sugar dissolves, about 30 seconds. Add half of greens, increase heat to medium-high, and let wilt until reduced enough to add other half. Using tongs, stir greens well to coat with spice mixture.
Cook, uncovered, stirring until greens are almost tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Cover and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 15 minutes. Serve with Tamarind Chickpea Curry and steamed basmati rice if you like.
*Find ghee (clarified butter) at Indian markets. Or, for Dhalwala's recipe, see sunset.com/ghee.
Variations: Instead of greens, try an equal amount of sliced brussels sprouts, thinly sliced broccoli stems, or cooked potatoes.