As mentioned on our About Us page, we sisters are half Sindhi. Growing up, we got to experience the wonderful traditional Sindhi cooking of our grandmother, and the less traditional, but equally delicious, Sindhi cooking of our father. One of the most common dishes that our grandmother made was Sai Bhaji, a spinach-based one-pot meal. Like many Indian and Pakistani style dishes the vegetables and dal are cooked down until they form a thick flavorful gravy.
Many versions of this dish exist, but this version I’m sharing here is the one my grandmother made. It’s best served with basmati brown rice or indian bread such as chapatis (can be bought either frozen or made following this recipe). Sai Bhaji is a fabulous recipe, as it requires no specialty ingredients, with the exception of chana dal, which is found at any indian grocery store or perhaps in some better stocked grocery stores in the ethnic foods section. It is also a very healthy dish, using no oil and packing in a lot of vegetables. It is best made with fresh vegetables, but frozen spinach can be used in a pinch, for a slightly diminished flavor.
Note: I did not make a mistake in typing up this recipe, there is no added water. As they heat up, the water in the vegetables is released and cooks the dal. Also, I know it seems like a ridiculous amount of spinach to add, but spinach cooks down to almost nothing. Because of the large volume initially in the pot, you will have to use a very large dutch oven or stock pot.
You’ll watch your spinach go from this:
1 small eggplant, 1/2″ dice
1 large potato, 1/2″ dice
1 medium onion, diced
1 lb fresh spinach, rinsed and ends trimmed off
1 or more hot peppers, diced (to taste)
1 cup chana dal
1″ fresh ginger, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, or 1/2 can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tamarind paste (or lemon juice)
1 tsp salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Put all ingredients into a large pot, cover, and heat over low-medium heat. Stir frequently at first so that the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. As the liquid is released from the vegetables you can stir less frequently. Turn the heat to low, and let cook until the lentils are soft, about 1 1/2 hours, keeping the pot covered the entire time.
2. Serve hot with chapatis, roti, or basmati rice.