This dish is not just a dish, it is a lot of memories. My first recollection of this is when my grandmother used to make Spinach Ambat, not just using any Spinach, a special kind of Spinach, called Vaali or Malabar Spinach.
We tried to capture the beauty of Malabar Spinach in the next picture. The gorgeous greens!
And this particular type of spinach was not available where we lived in Kerala. So, this ambat was a delicacy that was made at home when my grandmother got it from Mangalore. My grandmother had many relatives ion Mangalore and she used to visit them once in a while. There was a time when I used to go with her, and spend time with her side of the family – her brother, her aunts, her cousins etc. I used to look forward to those trips because the trip meant I got to miss school and also meant a lot of goodies (in terms of goodies available only in Mangalore). I also loved playing with my second cousins (they were almost my age).
The last day of the trip was exclusively for a vegetable market trip. I loved going to the market except for the the dirt. I remember I loved the colorful vegetables (these vegetables were not so commonly available where we lived), the crowd and the the vendors shouting the prices at the top of their voices. She would haggle over the price and when she was satisfied that she got a good deal, we bought that vegetable. Apart from Vaali, she would definitely buy a kind of egg plant called “Gul” which tasted excellent when dipped in batter and deep fried. Vaali (in Konkani and Basale soppu in Kannada) or Malabar Spinach was also a must-be-bought vegetable during those trips. And that Vaali would be turned into this gem of a dish – Spinach Ambat.
After marriage, once my husband and I settled down in Bangalore, there was a Mangalore store close to where we lived. So, getting this leafy vegetable was not a big deal.
Once we built a house, and had a backyard (where we were supposed to have a vegetable garden – more about my green thumb, or lack thereof, in a later story), we even planted some seeds and Malabar spinach actually started growing like weeds. And then, ambat started to get a regular place in our day to day menu.
But here in the US, we have to drive about 45 miles from where we live to go to the closest South Asian store. Which is no small feat than planning a trip from Kerala to Mangalore. I am not kidding, there are so many variables to consider – like, we have to take into consideration Sonshine’s activities, projects and home work due, my husband’s plans (if it is football season, just forget it, NO TRIPS on Sundays!), blog photo shoots etc. Phew! So, I adapted the recipe to use just regular spinach.
When my friend Parvathy asked me whether I would do a guest post for her blog, I readily agreed. I wanted to do something special for her. What is better than a recipe passed down from generations to share with her and since she was okay with a traditional konkani recipe, I decided to go ahead with the idea of Spinach Ambat as a guest blog post.
Now comes the twist in the tale… I fell sick over the holidays – sprained shoulder followed by a mild flu, vacation hangover, the Spinach Ambat photo shoot just got delayed and delayed. I was at my wit’s end (because I agreed and could not deliver), and as soon as I recovered, I decided to shoot the pics. But what I pictured in mind for the food styling did not turn out so good in pictures. We all have days like that, right?
Anyways, Parvathy was sweet to accept the write up and the photos and she has published the recipe on her blog. Please visit Crackle and Temper for the recipe.
Explore more Konkani Dishes from Framed Recipes.
A Konkani meal is considered in complete without this simple dal preparation. Pardon the image quality. (No Onion-No garlic recipe)
Soaked black garbanzo beans are pressure cooked and then simmered in a spicy and tangy coconut gravy. This is best served with steamed rice. How about trying this Konkani special today? (No onion, no-garlic recipe)
A perfect side dish for rice. Try this traditional Konkani recipe for koddel.