Turn it On!

It's been 33F every morning this past week, and dark when I drag myself out of bed. The temperature in the house dips to 62F and slowly warms up to 64F by the time Medha leaves for school. Turning on the furnace would help but the resident furnace cleaner is very reluctant to indulge in this particular activity. And in summer, he has the same feelings about turning on the air-conditioner. I couldn't bear it anymore the other day and I did the unforgiveable - I asked for the furnace to be turned on, oh please! A little voice piped up: But, Mumma, what about the Earth? Don't you want to save it? Of course, I do! I pontificate on it at every opportunity I get. So I wore all my ski gear, made some coffee instead and dug out the little heater.

Medha's room is very warm. Mine is a freezer as it gets buffeted by the winds. So I get the heater until I am warm under several layers of comforters.

It was 40F this morning but very blustery. A little person crept into my room and asked to wear my slippers as she could not find her own. Oops! Then she said: I really want to save the Earth and, I know my room is warm so I really don't need the furnace at night. But, the rest of the house is so cold that when I wake up in the mornings, I have hypothermia. Daddy, could you please turn the furnace on?

It didn't work.

It warmed up to a sunny but windy 70F today and it will probably be the same tomorrow. Sunday's high is going to be 39F with rain and snow. That's the high. The low will be 29F and it will feel much worse inside the house. I think I need a petition to get the furnace started by Saturday night!

Tonight is the Pom Cheer Night. We are going to freeze some more as we watch Medha and a whole bunch of young girls, aged 5 to 10, do the cheer at the high school football match. I've never been to a football game and I really hope those bright lights generate some heat! Brrrr! After that, we head to a friend's place for Navratri celebration. We will miss the puja but be just in time for pav bhaji. Yum!

When it's cold like this, I yearn for comfort food. A soupy something like Nabeela's Marag is just perfect! But given the deadlines at work, I need it to be quick as well. So last night, I reached out for Ammini's Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts and made Cheera Udachathu. With plain steamed rice, I reached my Nirvana and did not worry about the underlying problem with the furnace cleaner.

And, yes, spinach is very popular in this household. It's healthy, it's delicious and it's also a great alternative to Metamucil!

Cheera Udachathu

Spicy Mashed Spinach



  • 1 lb baby spinach leaves, washed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 2 dried red chillies, halved or 2 green chillies, sliced vertically
  • 12 to 15 fresh curry leaves
  1. Bring 1/4 cup water to boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat, and add the spinach to the
    pan.
  2. Add salt and turmeric powder. Cook over medium heat until the spinach wilts completely.
  3. Drain the excess water and reserve for vegetable stock or to knead the dough for rotis and parathas. Let the spinach cool, then blend it
    to make a thick, smooth purée.
  4. While the spinach is cooling, toast the fenugreek seeds over medium heat in a small skillet. Remember that dry roasting enhances the flavor and reduces the bitterness of fenugreek seeds. However, fenugreek needs close attention while toasting; it turns reddish brown and tastes very bitter when over-roasted!
  5. Using a mortar and pestle, crush it into a coarse powder. Or if you prefer, grind it to a fine powder in your spice grinder.
  6. Heat the oil in a skillet, and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start popping, add the urad dal, the green chillies and the curry leaves. Fry until the dal turns golden.
  7. Transfer the puréed spinach to the skillet. Sprinkle the toasted fenugreek powder on top, mix well, and cook for another minute or two.
  8. Cover and set aside for ten minutes, to allow all flavors to meld.
  9. Serve hot with plain boiled rice.


This is a very easy and quick curry to put together. You can increase the spicyness by adding more green chillies or dried red chillies, if you wish.

This recipe, and many more easy to make recipes, can be found in Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts by Ammini Ramachandran. I keep going back to this cookbook over and over again for heart-warming recipes.

Thank you, Ammini!

15 comments:

Suganya said...

Too bad it is that cold. In my town, only now people are to been seen on the streets. Today its a beautiful 84F :p

musical said...

How about taking a trip to La la land, its warmer here :). much warmer ;).

Cheera udachathu looks good, sounds similar to the Tamil style masiyal. I love me some spinach too :).

Kalva said...

We make chutney with spinach.. looks same!

Rajitha said...

see..it is different in our house..i beg for the a/c to be turned on in early summer and my hubby begs for the furnace come fall..and we both remember how mean the other was and never relent ;)

Anita said...

If only we would plan our residential areas considering the microclimate, all bedrooms could be warm in the winter and cooler in summers...and the earth would be better off...

You, with Medha's help (and D's!) are managing just fine! :sheepish grin:
Even your curries are green!

Heat from green chillies or red chillies melds well with Palak, which is a popular green at our table too - best when cooked in a simple way such this udachathu, palak paneer, or like good-old hakh.

Manisha said...

Suganya, enjoy the weather, I say! As for people on the streets, we have them all year round. Soon after the blizzard, we had people out on cross-country skis. And then there are those who must run regardless of the weather. We huddle indoors while there they are, jogging on icy sidewalks. When we moved to Colorado, the statistics for thinnest state took a hit!

Musical, I'm willing to take the next flight out! This spinach has such simple but wonderful flavors, you will love it!

Kalva, welcome to IFR! I've never had spinach chutney but I can imagine how tasty that might be!

Rajitha, that's funny! I don't ask for the air-conditioner till it touches the 90s. The house is pretty well-ventilated so that helps. It's when I cook in my west-facing kitchen that I really suffer. Cooking outside is the answer, really!

Anita, that would be the ideal scenario. When our house was built, the standards for insulation were different from what they are for new homes. It's not feasible to build anew. What we could do is blow in more insulation into the area between the ceiling and the attic. Since the house is a ranch, it heats up more than the other houses. I thought an attic fan would be the answer but it's been proved that more insulation really is. That layer will keep the heat from the attic out in summer and won't let the heat from the furnace escape through the roof in winter.

I know of someone who lives in the mountains who grows bananas in winter because he has 10x the insulation and a sunroom that stays warm through winter. It can be done but it requires mucho moolah. And, unfortunately, that puts it beyond our reach, at least for now.
:-(

Hakh would be great, too! Next week!

Kitt said...

Oh, that looks so pretty and tasty. Green is good!

I've had my furnace on downstairs but not up. I feel sorry about Sunday's forecast. Another miserable farmers market.

Lee R said...

I'm sorry it's so cold in Colorado and glad I'm in San Francisco for a few days.

I hope you and D. and Medha all kept warm during the game. I can't wait to hear about Medha's cheer and hope that will be the subject of your blog tomorrow.

I've made that spinach from Ammini's book and we liked it a lot (thank you, I love the book).

Lee

Pelicano said...

Hmmm... intriguing dish! Very saag-like, but not! I ain't never tried anything spiced quite this way...I ought to get this book, that I know, but I agree that this would be great on cold days- warm and comforting indeed!

La la land...Oh, how nice it would be to step down the concrete stairs to Santa Monica Beach, warm breeze blowing, looking at all the very thin people everywhere gasping in horror at my pale Wisconsin moon-tan...ah...memories...

Space heater. That's a yank back to reality!

Pelicano said...

Anita...it's spelt "hakh" now? Oh dear...the world changes too fast for me...

Anita said...

'H' is a funny letter that way. Hel, I mean Pel. It can be silent, if you like. :D

Is anyone looking for a climate conscious architect? We do green buildings...err...at third world prices! Please leave your name here to outsource your Green Architecture jobs...[okay with you, M?]

Mandira said...

Manisha, this looks delicious. Thank you for tagging me, I will do it soon. Happy Navratri :)

Nabeela said...

That recipe sounds so easy!! I'm definitely putting it on the top of my to-make list....we love spinach at our home too. Just don't know of too many dishes that use it!
As for soups, I've tried 6 recipes so far....it's been pretty chilly here too with lows in 40s(of course its nothing compared to your 20s!)

Manisha said...

Kitt, the furnace has been turned on! I prevailed! Or at least I like to think that!

Lee, it will be back to the 70s by the time you get back! Isn't this spinach wonderful?

Pel, not saag-like at all. Space heater has been put away! Yay!

And, ya, that Kashmiri lady has a spelling problem.


Anita, climate conscious architect?! If I was building, sure! McStain is very popular here for green neighborhoods.

Mandira, whenever you can!

Nabeela, we aren't yet in the 20s but we're getting there. Windchills for tomorrow's Broncos game wil be in the 20s. Brrrr!

Nabeela said...

I just made your spinach...and yummmm, the smell.....
I think I over roasted fenugreek a little, so the spinach salan came out a little bit bitter. I added some lime juice to counter that. I love the complex flavors in the curry Manisha. Thanks for posting the recipe!
Let the over roasting be a lesson to all of you who plan to not follow this recipe to the letter!