Make It Naked: Palak Chaat Recipe

Back when I lived in Alexandria (sniff) I was lucky enough to make some great friends, including a few very talented bloggers.  I met Krissy (who writes Make It Naked) over a plate of cupcakes one afternoon, and we instantly clicked.  She is creative and hilarious, and I look forward to every one of her new posts.  If her blog is not in your reader or bookmarks yet, add it now.  You will thank me later!

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Many thanks to Krissy for sharing this crazy delicious recipe with all of us today!!

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When Emily asked me to guest post, I was beyond excited and honored. I had the pleasure of getting to know Emily when she lived here in Alexandria. Before they moved Jon and I were lucky enough to have dinner with her and Casey at Rasika. I’ve been several times and have never been disappointed.

There’s always amazing food, great drinks and there is ALWAYS Palak Chaat (crispy spinach). Palak Chaat is my absolute favorite appetizer at any restaurant…ever. Big claim, I know. But yeah, spinach holds the title. Don’t doubt me. This spinach is special.

I think Emily was excited to try it. Possibly because I talked it up as edible gold. But you see, she was at that vegetables-are-the-most-unappetizing-thing-you-could-put-in-front-of-me stage of pregnancy. So…I ordered it anyway.

Emily tried it and claimed she liked it but I think only because she knew I would have cried otherwise. Now that the vegetable aversion is gone, I thought maybe she would want to try it again. She needs to enjoy it to its full potential. This has nothing to do with the fact that I can’t get a reservation at Rasika for a whole month. Or that I might be going through crispy spinach withdrawals. Whatever, it’s not about me. I’ve attempted to recreate it for Emily, and you…but not me.

How do you make spinach better? Flash fry it. Duh. I dusted off the electric fryer and got to it. A quick dip in hot oil and the baby spinach goes from your average green leafy vegetable to an almost transparent, crisp, flavorful chip. Thin and delicate. The spinach is served with a drizzle of yogurt sauce. I used a mixture of dates, curry powder, coriander and cumin to spice the yogurt. Lastly, it’s topped off with a fresh mix of tomatoes, red onion and cilantro. My electric fryer just got a permanent upgrade from the storage closet to front and center countertop space. That’s prime real estate in this house. So worth it.

So this is for you Emily, and your readers. A completely selfless act to bring a little east coast Rasika love right into your home.

Palak Chaat (Crispy Spinach)

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Ingredients:

  • 33.8oz bottle (1L) canola oil (see note 1 below)
  • 3oz of fresh baby spinach, completely dry (see note 2 below)
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0% because that’s what I had)
  • 2 dates, chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • pinch of coriander
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1-3 tablespoons water (see note 3 below)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped tomato
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Directions:

1. In a small bowl combine the yogurt, chopped dates, curry powder, coriander, cumin, lemon juice and water. Mix and let sit while you start frying.

yogurtsauceingredients

The longer it sits the softer the dates get. I liked it better the next day so go ahead and make this early if you can.

sauce

2. In an electric fryer (or stovetop, see note 1 below) heat oil at 350-400°. You can test the oil to see if it’s hot enough by sticking the end of a wooden spoon in it. Bubbles should form around the spoon if the oil is ready. If it gets too hot it will splatter so be careful.

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3. Drop a few pieces of DRY baby spinach into the oil at a time. Be careful of splattering. It will happen. Leave for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel to drain. Try to keep the spinach from touching on the paper towel. It can get soggy if they leaves are stacked. Also, the leaves are very delicate so don’t press with the paper towel. Just let them sit.

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4. Plate the spinach. Drizzle with the yogurt sauce and top with the chopped tomato, onion and cilantro. The spinach will not stay crisp so serve immediately. Enjoy!

garnish

Notes:

1. I used an entire bottle of canola oil, but my fryer is large. The amount of oil you use will depend on the size of the fryer or pan that you use. You can heat the oil in a frying pan on the stovetop. Just be sure there is at least 1/4 inch of oil in the bottom, so the spinach can float.

2. This one is important. MAKE SURE YOUR SPINACH IS DRY. If it’s not it will be like a hot oil bomb just went off in your kitchen. I might have experienced this. Seriously, leave it out on some paper towels to completely dry, spin it in a salad spinner. Blow dry it? This is a safety issue. Dry the spinach.

3. I used Fage yogurt which is thick. I needed 3 tablespoons of water to get the mixture thin enough to drizzle but the amount of water will depend on the thickness of your yogurt. Start with 1 tablespoon and add more as needed. You’ll have extra yogurt sauce. You’re welcome.

4. I tried to bake the spinach to see if I could get the same flavor using a lighter method. I couldn’t. In fact, it was terrible. The spinach was soggy and gross. Stick to frying for crispy leaves of goodness.

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Deeeeeeeeeeeeelicious!  Thank you, Krissy!!