picture does not do it justice as I was so hungry I ate all that in one gulp…and so ended the collard greens photo shoot.
The oil traditionally has been used in North Indian and Bengali cooking and is derived from the seeds of the mustard plant, same family as broccoli, cabbage, collared greens etc. (which may explain why it complements the flavor of greens so well). And for people that don’t eat fish like me, this oil is one of the few sources of omega-3, which helps to reduce cholesterol and improve blood circulation.
Last time I was in India, my father’s aunt was talking to me about how she likes to cook leafy greens in mustard oil. Not until recently did I try this out for myself and now I’m addicted. I have really been enjoying the combo and got more interested in learning about the oil. It kind of has a strong smell to it like cabbage (haha I know not the most appealing smell!), but when heated to its smoking point, it becomes really nutty and nice.*
For this recipe, I combine the collard greens with mustard oil and rasam powder, a South Indian spice mixture used in a tomato lentil soup called rasam or saru. Rasam powder is made from red chili, coriander seeds, black pepper, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and asafoetida. You can find it in most Indian stores. I have been sprinkling it on a lot of stuff lately.
*If using mustard oil, heat the oil until it smokes and then set it aside to cool. You can also heat the entire bottle of mustard oil so that you can cook with it immediately for future use. This heating removes the pungency from the oil.
Spiced Collard Greens in Mustard Oil
1 bunch collard greens, leaves chopped with stems removed
2 tablespoons mustard oil
pinch of red pepper flakes – optional
4 green onions, just white parts chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped fine
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon rasam powder
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
squeeze of lemon
salt to taste
Heat the mustard oil in a pan to its smoking point. Turn the heat down to medium and throw in the red pepper flakes first to flavor the oil for a few seconds and then the green onions. Sautee for a few minutes and then stir in the garlic and cook for a few seconds. Put the chopped collard greens into the pan and mix up.
Once the greens are coated with the oil, make a little space in the middle of the pan for the sesame oil. Put the rasam powder in the oil for a few seconds and then mix everything up with the brown sugar and salt. Cook covered for about 8 minutes, making sure that the greens are not burning. If so add a little bit of water and continue to cook. When greens are tender, turn off the heat. Squeeze lemon on top, mix and serve.