Bitter Haak My Words

Last spring was memorable for many reasons. One of my favorite persons turned 50 and we wanted to be part of the celebrations, so we flew out to Massachusetts for the party. It soon turned into a working vacation and the intense hours at work were balanced by food, fun, friends and family. We returned home a couple of weeks later, late at night, feeling very content. I turned on the lights in the yard to peek outside and everything was a lush green. I went to sleep very happy that night.

The nightmare began the next morning when I realized that we had no grass. The green that I had seen was dandelions, more dandelions and even more dandelions. Our neighbors weren't particularly thrilled either. We bought weed pullers and yanked away till we only had holes for a yard. I bore the brunt of refusing to consider townhomes when we were house-hunting but I was so done with sharing walls and second-hand smoke. After a while we gave up doing things the Boulder way and I went and bought Weed-B-Gone and started spraying every dandelion cluster I saw.

Did I mention that I hate dandelions?

Yet, a couple of months later I ate dandelion greens sautéed in olive oil with some garlic at a friend's place and really enjoyed them. Ever since then I have been looking for a recipe that would work really well with dandelion greens. I knew I had found it when I saw this. And when I found a pretty bunch of red dandelions at Wild Oats yesterday, I knew the time had come to try it out.

Since Anita is still keeping some secrets when it comes to haakh and sharing only with some others who are subsequently getting their revenge by pulling out the asparagus card, I figured I would follow Chandramukhi Ganju's recipe for munji haakh. I took some hints from Bee's method because unfortunately, Ms. Ganju forgets to tell us when to add asafetida as well as the garam masala.

Before I go any further, I must tell you a little bit more about dandelion greens. Regular dandelion greens are only slightly bitter and have a flavor rather like mulyachi bhaji made with the greens of white radish. Red dandelions? If you hate karela, you will detest red dandelion greens with a vengeance. They surpass bitter melon or bitter gourd in the bitter department.

Oh, and, I loved these dandelions.

Haak, with dandelion greens

  • 1 bunch organic dandelion greens
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil
  • a pinch hing
  • 3-4 dry red chillies, broken into two pieces each
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri garam masala (scroll down towards the bottom of the post)
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt to taste

  1. Wash and clean the dandelion greens
  2. Slice the leaves into thin long strips and chop the stems fine

  3. Heat mustard oil in the pressure cooker or skillet till a smoking point
  4. Add hing and red chillies
  5. Add the greens and stir well till the greens wilt a bit
  6. Add water and salt
  7. Cook in the pressure cooker under pressure for at least 7-8 minutes or in your skillet until the greens are tender
  8. Release the pressure as quickly as possible, keeping your safety in mind, and open the pressure cooker.
  9. Add Kashmiri garam masala and mix well.
  10. Cook for another minute or so and serve hot with naan or, to appease Anita, have it with starchy short-grained rice.

What can I say? It was bitter personified but I loved it. Medha wanted it off her plate as soon as possible but she did taste it. My husband and I relished it over the next few days.

There is a side effect that we weren't quite aware of the first night we ate these: dandelion greens clean out your system better than spinach. Uh huh!

More about dandelions and dandelion greens:
Why we should like dandelions
Healing properties of Dandelion Greens
Growing and harvesting dandelion greens


Anita said...

I have never had garam masala in my Haak! With Naan!! Horror of horrors!

But I'll let you live, because this was not really haak but a haak inspired method for dandelion greens. And you do use mustard oil... :-)

And it is time the real munji haak stood up. I would have posted it long ago had I even an inkling of the fact that it might actually please non-Kashmiris, relying as I was on TH's family's response.

Anita said...

I like the red bits...and dandelions are cooked in Kashmiri cuisine! ;-)

Indian Food Rocks said...

Tee! Hee! you mean you might actually do a post on Haak?! No!

I take it that it's not a free country when it comes to (Kashmiri) Haak but it is when it comes to (Maharashtrian) pathrode?

It's all your fault for not sharing. Bee's recipe used garam masala, as do the three recipes she linked to. (Bee! Come back soon! Enough of all that fun you are having on vacation!)

If Kashmiri Var or Kashmiri Vari Masala is different from Kashmiri garam masala, how is this poor soul to know?! And, it was yum with naan. They soaked up all the delicious juices.

So what do Kashmiris make with dandelions?

Anita said...

I have the vaguest memories of my grandma (dadi) collecting dandelion like greens when we visited my Uncle posted in Bandipora (Kashmir), far from the city. There was also a grat (water-mill)there from which we got some rice flour...I was maybe 10 - so you'll have to forgive me if I don't remember what was made of the greens. Maybe they didn't even serve it to us kids...relishing all that bitterness by themselves. But, this needs further investigation,definitely.

Yeah, it is a free country - even more so when it comes to the region of Kashmir! ;-)

With Pel's pathrode - first of all he was eating what was obviously a Maharashtrian version. Second of all, I needed to get 'it's' into it so that I could show him where the apostrophe was supposed to be! :-D

Pelicano said...

Lmao!!!! ...cleaned out your wanted them off her! You kill me!

I see Anita jumped right on the garam masala- predictable!! :-D

Hing=good! Anita doesn't use it, but she's the exception... :-)

LOL...Maybe she'll finally do a post!

Free country... lol [the tears are rolling now]

Seriously...the Gujju versions of pathrode are like that too! Well, no...they add more gur of course...but it's a free country. Anita, your pathrode is way different than any other I've seen...

Pelicano said...

Oh...Anita...yes, dandelions grow there too; I was looking at wildflowers of the area- same species, but no wonder as they are quite adept at reproducing. Did you both know that the roots can be dried, roasted and ground to be used as a coffee-like drink? A bit like chicory I imagine...

I made dandelion-flower wine once...very dry...

Anita said...

Manisha - you are so accommodating, really! (forgot to mention earlier - clever title, BTW)

And Pel is the proverbial fountain of knowledge...really! Is there anything about Indian cuisine that he does not know?

Pelicano said...

Uh...yeah...MOST of it! The more I learn, the less I know...

I was looking at a website that listed common wildflowers of the Himalayas...I didn't know that globe thistle was native to that region; I have some planted in the back-yard here...

Suganya said...

Thts a fun read.. But are those dandelions in yr yard edible?

archana said...

Enjoyed reading your post Manisha. The recipe looks really simple and nice. Dandelions look familiar.

Indian Food Rocks said...

<looks left; looks right; wonders what will hit her next and from which direction> Psst! Pel! Is she being nice to be me now? I was contemplating shutting shop, I mean blog. She scared the Ba-Krishna out of me!

Pel, you have some globe thistle planted or you have some growing just because? And this is not an obnoxious weed?

Suganya, the dandelions from my yard are not edible. I have sprayed them to ...well, I wish I could say death! The greens I used in this recipe are organic red dandelion greens. These are newly cultivated variety and have red stalks and red veins. I found these at Wild Oats.

Archana, it is simple although the flavors are far from it!

bee said...

what has the world come to? one has to buy dandies? my neighbour has the most unkempt yard in the world and i can get some organic dandies for from there for free. your dish looks fab.

ask this south indian. your haak looks very authentic. ;-)

i'm too drunk right now, but i'll be back home tomorrow evening and then i'll probably wonder who posted this comment in my name. ask you to delete this comment.

Indian Food Rocks said...

See now, that's what I needed! A chaap of authenticity from the other tip of India!

In Boulder, you'd think we wouldn't have to buy organic dandelions but the only yard that I could get them from in my neighborhood has a lot of dog poop. So no thank you!

Have a safe trip home and I hope your vacation was fun!

Pelicano said...

Bee is now the third of us to go online food-blog-hopping while tipsy- great fun! Makes for unexpected commentary eh? I wanted to go out last night too: got all cleaned, showered, and dressed to the nines and was waiting for my British bud to call me...and fell asleep! I woke up at 1:30a and well...ate a few bites of haak and went back to bed! So, no hangover or afterglow... :-)

Anita will just have to understand that the haak-method and it's simple seasoning is specatacular for anything green... ooooh! Broccoli!!!

Nabeela said...

Ooh dandelion greens. I've been meaning to try it since long but can't gather up my courage ;)
Alanna has a couple of recipes on her blog for dandelions. Here's the link:

I'm enjoying reading the commets too :)

Luv2cook said...

You have got to be kidding me :) eat dandelions? MAN only if I KNEW this a month ago..I pretty much sprayed my dandelions with weed-b-gone and KILLED/MURDERED them ruthlessly....I WON I WON I WON HA HA

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