Vaali - Popashpala Ambat / Malbar Spinach – Raw Papaya Curry Seasoned with Onions ......
Vali / Basale / Malbar Spinach is a leafy creeper vegetable extensively grown in most parts of India. These are green palm sized oval shaped leaves with thick stems climbing plant. It is known under various common names, including Pui, vine spinach, red vine spinach, climbing spinach, creeping spinach, buffalo spinach, Malabar spinach etc. Both the tender stems and the leaves are used while preparing the curry. We GSB Saraswats are highly partial towards this vegetable. These are grown even in the backyard of the houses by making provision of small sticks for the plant to support climbing. If the leaves are very large, we even make small sized Patrado out of it.
We GSB Saraswat’s prepare mainly two types of dishes out of these, One being Ambat and the other bendi. For Ambat churned dal, dried prawns, raw papaya or any other vegies are added and seasoned with onions. While bendi is prepared by using only masala with Vali and seasoning it with garlic. I have already posted a Non vegetarians preparation ie addition of dried prawn or fresh prawns ambat before. Also posted bendi and Vali ambat with dal also. This one is prepared with Raw papaya. Dal is not added to this preparation. Also a little bit of gur / goda / jaggery is added to the curry. This curry is medium spicy, a little bit sweet and tangy dish. Goes well with rice / idly / roti. Try out this dish once if you find raw papaya and malbar spinach in your vicinit, you will never regret it, but will prepare it often and enjoy with your family.
Gently slice of the skin on the raw papaya with knife as thinly as possible. Remove the inner disposable parts attached to the papaya if any. Discard inner seeds if any. Now cut the firm white fleshly part of the raw papaya into medium sized cubes. Wash them in plenty of water and keep them ready aside.
Peel off the skin and chop 2 large sized onions finely and keep aside ready.
Wash and chop the leaves of one large bunch of Vali / Basale / Malbar Spinach finely. You should at least have 10-12 cups of chopped leaves.
Cut the stems into 3 inch pieces. Rinse in colander under running water.
Put both the chopped vali leaves along with the cut stems in cooker and add about 2 cups of water. Add in the cubed raw papaya and pressure cook all to 2 whistles. Let the pressure drop on its own. When cool, remove the lid and pour the cooked ingredients into a large vessel.
To be ground to a fine paste : Grind 2 cups of freshly grated coconut with marble sized tamarind and 8-10 Kashmiri Red Chilly (plus or minus depending upon individual preference) with required amount of water to a very fine and thick paste.
Remove the ground paste and add it to Cooked vali and papaya in the vessel. Add ½ of the chopped onions (leave the rest for seasoning) and mix well. Add salt to taste, about 50-75 gms of grated jaggery / gud and bring to a boil. Now lower the heat to minimum and let simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add water if the gravy is too thick. Remove from heat and keep aside.
Prepare the Seasoning : Add the remaining chopped onion in a small pan with 3 tblsp of oil and fry it on medium heat till evenly golden brown. Keep stirring often to avoid the onions getting burnt in some places. Remove and pour over the Vali-Papaya curry and mix well.
Cover and keep aside the ambat / curry for 10-15 minutes for the flavours to seep in. Serve the Vali popashpala (raw papaya) ambat/curry with freshly cooked Red boiled Rice or any other rice of your preference. You can also serve with with Idly, the way I do. I simply love this curry with Idly / khotto / Dosa or Appo too. They are a great combo. You can serve the same with poori or roti too.