Spinach in Coconut Gravy (Vali Ambat)

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Vali Ambat

Number of servings: 5-6

How long it takes: 1 hour

Spinach is a veggie green which is available in almost 6 months of a year. In Kerala it is called by the name Malabar spinach, Basale in Kannada, and Vali in Konkani. I have already put up spinach paratha, vali bendhi, and spinach in moong dal.  This Ambat is a traditional konkani dish which  we used to prepare in combination with raw papaya (not too raw but a little more than raw  in the sense that it is starting to sweeten andis not the ripe yellow one). But these days since it turns out too sweet with rice I do not prepare with papaya and I use toor dal, onions and spinach while cooking. It is a simple dish yet very yummy.

What you need to have:

1. Chopped Spinach – 5 cups

2. Onion chopped – 1 cup (use half the quantity for seasoning)

3. Toor dal – 1/3 cup

4. Water to cook – 2 cups

5. Tomato – 1

Fresh chopped spinach greens

Ingredients of the dish

Ingredients of Wet Masala:

1. Fresh grated coconut – 3/4 cup

2. Byadgi chillies – 6-7

3. Bilimbi – 3-4

4. Turmeric powder – 1/2 Teaspoon

Ingredients of Wet Masala

What you do with what you have:

1. Wash, chop spinach leaves finely, peel onions and tomato finely too, and keep aside. Grate coconut as well and keep it aside.

2. Place cooker with toor dal in it and add required quantity of water in it.  Also add chopped spinach, tomato and onions too and place it on medium flame and cook as usual for 25 minutes till done.

Veggie with dal being cooked in the cooker

3. On releasing the pressure of the cooker , cooked veggie-dal mix is as shown in the image below.

Cooked veggie with dal

4. Place a spatula with a teaspoon of cooking oil in it on medium flame.  On heating, fry red chilles in it and add turmeric powder to it and switch off the flame.  Do not burn chillies as the masala will turn bitter. Grind the ingredients of wet masala in the mixer along with fried chillies to a medium fine consistency adding water in steps.

Ground wet masala

5. Transfer cooked veggie dal mix from step-3 to a broad based bowl and add ground wet masala from step-4 to it and add required quantity of water to it to bring it to the required consistency and check for salt.  (If required add 1/2 Teaspoon jaggery.)

Vali Ambat being cooked

6. Place a spatula with 3-4 Teaspoons of cooking oil in it on low flame. When hot, add chopped onions into it.  Keep frying till it turns light brown and crispy, stirring consistently so that it does not burn.

Chopped onions being fried in oil

7. Season it to the dish and close it with a lid.  Enjoy after a while when hot only. Yummmmmmmmmm

Ready to serve Vali Ambat

Number of servings: 5-6

How long it takes: 1 hour

Good to remember:

1. The tender stem of the greens also can be chopped into 3″ pieces and cooked with the greens and dal

2. Use good quality dal for better flavour of the dish.

3. Bilimbi can be replaced by tamarind since it is not available at all places.

4. Using jaggery is always optional but for this dish it is used in almost all homes .

5. This dish tastes better the next day too.


6 thoughts on “Spinach in Coconut Gravy (Vali Ambat)

    Raji said:
    May 8, 2011 at 11:24 am

    It’s so nice to know about local cuisines of India. The dish is looking very authentic. Never heard before about bimbli..after seeing this post searched about it in google. Yum looking and very healthy.

    KBoy said:
    May 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    The Vali Ambat came out very nice and delicious as I tried two times in last two weeks, as Vali (Malabar Spinach, Mulayam(Marathi), Taiwnis Spinach(Chinese Market)) is available here often. I enhanced the recipe with Goad(Jaggery) as my mother used to add during preparation and also added boiled peanuts as in Maharashtrian type Aamti(“Ruchira” by Mrs. Kamalabai Ogle book).It is like complete meal even if you eat as soup during lunch time.

      prathibalrao responded:
      May 23, 2011 at 10:57 pm

      Hi K-Boy,

      As you say i have also given the option of Jaggery in my version of the recipe. Jaggery a little enhances the flavour of Ambat.

    KBoy said:
    May 25, 2011 at 3:30 am

    Thanx Pratibha!
    This is one of the Ambat which gives you the taste of all four types “Tikse, Midse,Aamse, Godse and Ruchee….echi'(Hot-chilli, salty, soury and sweet taste all together tasty)

    bhagya bhandarkar said:
    July 13, 2012 at 11:54 am

    u try with spinach “Alvati” .cook spinach with ginger and greenchilli and bimbul.put masala grinded. give thadaka. done. if u want little cooked palak grind and add. it will give nice taste.

    Roshni said:
    April 10, 2013 at 9:31 pm

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