Durga Pujo is over for us - it was celebrated over the last weekend! Though it is still on in full swing in Kolkata, we are back to our normal routine. I did feel a tiny little pang as I was putting the sarees away but truth be told we enjoyed the Pujo a lot this year, perhaps the most enjoyable Pujo for me over here and this is the 8th year that I am spending Pujo away from Kolkata. We were very actively involved in the Pujo preparations and I think that is what made it so special - we felt like a part of the community.
Festivities kind of spoil us. I have to force myself back to normalcy. I did not feel like cooking at all and usually opt for easy to make meals like veggie/chicken quesadilla or chicken fried rice with pan seared cod fish or quinoa khichdi with veggies and ground chicken.
Previously, I had to camouflage spinach before to make the 5 year old eat it. Though he is pretty good with his vegetables, he absolutely refuses to eat leafy greens. But now that I have successfully fed him Saag Chhole (garbanzo beans with spinach), Saag Keema (Ground Chicken with spinach) and he enjoyed eating them, he will now eat even if I tell him that there is spinach in it. The only catch is, it has to be a paste of spinach. This is yet another way of making him eat spinach.
- Ground Chicken - 1 lb
- Spinach - 1 1/2 Cups, packed (I used frozen)
- Cilantro - 1 Cup, packed
- Garlic - 2 (crushed) + 2 (finely chopped), fat cloves
- Green chili - 1 (or more, if you prefer more heat - I usually skip)
- Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
- Oil - 1 + 1/2 tbsp
- Pasta - 2 Cups (uncooked)
- Water - enough for boiling the pasta
- Salt to taste + enough to season the pot of pasta water
- Ground Pepper - 1/2 tsp
In a large pot bring water to boil. Season it generously with salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions. I usually cook it for 1-2 minutes less time than mentioned on the package as the pasta continues to cook once the sauce has been added. Drain the pasta, reserve about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the starchy pasta water and keep aside.
While the pasta is boiling prepare the sauce. Make a smooth paste using the spinach, cilantro, garlic cloves and 1 tbsp of oil. I used frozen spinach that I had thawed out so it had some liquid in it. Add a little water if necessary to make a smooth paste.
In a pan, heat 1/2 tbsp of oil and fry the garlic along the coriander powder till fragrant. Add the ground chicken and brown it nicely. Keep breaking the clumps of chicken using your spatula. Season with salt and pepper. Now add the spinach-cilantro paste to the ground chicken and cook till it turns a darker shade of green. Add the reserved pasta liquid and cook it till the sauce starts to get a little thick. Add the sauce to the drained pasta and give it a nice toss. Since both the sauce and the pasta is hot, the pasta will continue cooking. Serve hot.
Note: You can add spices of your choice when you are making the sauce. This is the easiest that I make and this is what the family loves most. Other times, I add tomatoes to the spinach paste and chopped onions while cooking the ground chicken.