PALAK CHAAT -Rasika's "crispy spinach app."
Does any one know the (or a similar) recipe for the "Palak Chaat" (otherwise heard as the crispy spinach appetizer) that Rasika is so well known for? I have researched different recopies and have found that each recipe seems a bit different from what I ate at Rasika. The main differences are:
~ Each recipe involves coating the spinach in a thick batter -while at Rasika, there was no batter at all. Maybe Sunderam (exec chef) sort of flash fried the spinach leaves?
~Also it seems that traditionally this dish is supposed to be served hot, while at Rasika it was served cold -and delightfully so.
~Furthermore (and possibly not important) I can’t seem to find the Palak Chaat dish served anywhere else, here, or NYC. (I’ve found Chaat dishes, but no Palak Chaat)
Hopefully all you fellow chowhounders can help........
I haven't had this, but what you describe sounds like the way Jacques Pepin makes crispy kale.
Wash and remove large stems. Dry very well. In a large bowl, toss with a small amount of oil (he used olive oil in his recipe, but for an Indian restaurant, maybe ghee?) very well, then season with salt & pepper and toss well again. Arrange on a wire rack in a single layer to avoid steaming, put into a low oven (no more than 180) for 20-30 minutes or until crisped.
I researched this recipe a little and apparently this is also known as "kale crack"(who knew?) -very popular in the vegan community I heard... I think I will definitely try this, (it should translate well from kale to spinach right?) I’ve heard you can also deep fry the spinach for about 30 seconds.
---This probably solves the biggest problem, now I need to figure out what’s in the "date chutney", what "sweet yogurt" is, and try to piece together the rest of this delicious recipe....
I haven't tried it with spinach, and the kale usually is the curly-leafed variety. Be wary of having much overlap because water is the enemy of a crispy result!
Re hill food's post below, I've always thought that tamarind sauce had a bit of a vinegary undertone to it. In fact, in my pad thai recipe, the chef noted that for American palates he sometimes substitutes vinegar for some or all of the tamarind.
Bombay Club has the same thing with a different name.
Also, the spinach is warm, the sauce is cold making for a delightful contrast in your mouth.
Our next visit in Saturday. Two orders of that to start! :)
Has anyone else tried to make this yet? I'm Indian and we have the basic ingredients for chaat around the house: yogurt, mint chutney, and tamarind chutney. So when I saw the fresh spinach on sale this week, I decided to take a shot at it. I did the baked/crispy spinach version because I'm scared of frying. I baked the spinach in small batches until dry/crispy and then added salt and oil after. That took a while, and I didn't spread the seasonings out enough; the first one was fabulous and the next piece would be bland. Finally I turned it into chaat: I layered spinach, cut onion, tomato, and the dressings on there. I did not make a date-tamarind chutney, the standard one in our household is tamarind-brown sugar. The 10 oz bag of spinach barely served two, but that's probably because of my copious sampling. Fabulous way to inhale a bunch of healthy foods.
Here is the recipe I tried today ...
Prepare Yogurt and Date/Tarmarind Chutney
You can buy Greek style yogurt at the store or make your your own.
approx 1.5 cup of regular plain yogurt or 1 cup of Greek Style yogurt (Use paper towel in strainer to drain all water from plain regular yogurt for 2 to 4 hours )
Add 1 tsp spoon of table sugar and pinch of salt and mix well.
approx 1/2 Cup to 3/4 cup Regular Dates ( I wouldn't use fancy/expense dates)
Soak dates for 2 to 4 hours or overnight in a warm water ... don't use too much water ... just enough to just cover the date or little less.
Buy Tarmarind paste at the store or make your own. But its not worth the work. Many of my family/Friends have replaced Tarmarind with fresh lemon juice in cooking for health reason. Please feel to replace fresh lemon juice if you don't have access to tarmarind.Use 3 or 4 tsp or change the qty per your taste.
You can use approx 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup or less light brown sugar solids or table sugar. Salt to taste.
Use 1/2 tsp of turmeric and 1 tsp of Curry Powder and 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds powder, 1 to 3 tsp red chilli powder choose wisely based on your taste
Blend dates (with soaking water), sugar, salt, tarmarind paste or Lemon Juice or both if you choose, curry powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, brown sugar or regular sugar.
Do not add water unless you are unable to blend ... use least amount of water as possible. more watery the chutney is more soggy fried spinach will get. So less water would be nice but chutney should still be runny like a gray.
Prepare the Spinach or the Palak - Flash Deep fried Spinach
approx 1 lbs Wash and dry or buy prewash baby Spinach
Use the deep fry at 400-500 degrees Highest with regular deep frying oil (vegetable oil)
divide the qty of spinach in such away that spinach cover the surface of the deep fryer
Once Oil is pre-heated - drop the spinach in the oil slowly/safely without splashing the oil
leave the spinach in the oil for 30-60 sec ... remove and let spinach drain excess oil on the strainer or paper towel or paper bag. At this point make handle spinach very carefully as it is very delicate. Handle spinach least about of time and let it cool at room temperature
Assemble the chaat
Chop 2 med Tomato
Chop 2 med Onion (Yellow, Red or white )
Cut Cilantro for garnishing
lay the the fried spinach on the plate or bowl. you need 2 to 3 inch of a layer. sprinkle finely chopped onions first evenly on the spinach and followed by finely chopped tomato. Add very light layer of yogurt mix and followed by even drops of DATE chutney. Garnish with chopped Cilantro
To make it more spicy - add Cilantro and green chill chutney
Add cooked Cheak peas, finely chopped boiled potato, and/or finely chopped green (sour) mango
Use Sev to ganish with Cilantro
I just had crispy spinach at Rasika's and it was terrific! All the dishes were excellent, but this was my favorite. It sounds a bit daunting to make it, though. I wrote down the menu description and posted it on my blog today. "It's called Palaak and consists of crispy baby spinach, sweet yogurt and a tamarind and date chutney. The spinach is as crisp as "kale chips" and I'd love to make it at home, but wouldn't know where to start." It was so good I think I'll have to try to make it anyway.