Monday, April 16, 2012

Water spinach: Weed or soul food?

Photo courtesy

This weekend my wife cooked water spinach, a leafy vegetable eaten in Bengal, India, and South-East Asia. The leaves are also called Chinese water spinach or water ipomea; its botanical name is Ipomoea aquatica. My family loves the vegetable as a side dish, but I discovered during my research on the vegetable that it's considered a weed in the United States!

Sure, it is cheap, but I reject the classification. I love it stir-fried with garlic. I would say it is a soul food for Bengalis, who call it "kalmi saag" -- "saag" meaning a leafy vegetable, like collard greens.

Have you eaten water spinach? If yes, do you like it?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Mulling over mullet

Parshey bhaja
Photo courtesy: Siddharth Dasgupta,

I wrote about Bengalis' love of fish a while ago. I hesitated to write this post and, especially, to carry the photo, for I do not want to put off vegetarians. Bengali cuisine has a great variety of vegetable dishes to please vegetarians; however, fish takes centerstage. One such fish that is a favorite of our family is parshey, or the silvery Indian mullet. The photo you see is of parshey bhaja, or fried mullet. Bhaja is a classic method applied to many fish in Bengal. The dish involves marinating the fish in salt and turmeric and deep-frying.