What is kale good for?
From a young age it has been inculcated in me that greens are your best friend! Being mildly anemic growing up, my parents always ensured that I ate some form of greens at least twice a week. Back in Bangalore we had a huge array of delicious greens to choose from bunched spinach and methi to the South Indian greens of Harve Soppu, Dantina Soppu and Kempu Soppu (All Kanada terms, roughly translated to green, amaranth and red leaves!)
Coming to London I sorely missed my greens. The baby spinach was good only for salads, finding methi was like shopping for gold (based on its cost and rarity!) and Dantina Soppu– just forget it!
Eating greens was however a must and I had to get my required minerals and vitamins, and then I came across Kale. Kale is pronounced as Kay-l and not as it is spelt. There is no Indian name for kale though it is from the Brassica family which is the same family of the more familiar Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cabbage. It however looks nothing like its cousins and it is a tough, fibrous, thick stemmed green. It tastes like a blander version of spinach.
Why is kale good for you?
Now why is kale good for you? Kale is high in Vitamins A, C and K. Vegetables are a great source of Vitamins and one does not have to just depend on oranges and lemons. Kale is said to have a greater amount of Vitamin C than an orange! It is also high in calcium and has good source of folate and minerals like managanese and copper. Finally kale is also a good source of iron and fibre. You can read more about the benefits of kale in this article here.
On first purchasing it I wondered how to eat kale? I found and tried many lovely recipes from the internet but I could not find too many recipes for kale in Indian cooking. Hence I slowly started incorporating it in my favourite everyday Indian meals and came up with a lot of variations.
How to cook kale Indian style?
One of my healthy dinner recipes with kale was this North Indian Veg Pulao recipe. This is the simplest and easiest way to incorporate kale into an Indian recipe as it involves steaming the kale which is the best way to eat and digest kale as well. It is made with a few ingredients which include Basmati rice, it has wonderful aromatic spices and lovely mild flavour.
What is a substitute for kale?
You may ask what is a substitute for kale? This is especially if you are India where kale is not easily found. The vegetable most similar to kale is spinach or Palak. In fact it has a higher level of folate which is important for women. It does lack some minerals and vitamins that Kale has but it is an equally good source of fibre and iron. Hence you can easily substitute spinach for kale in this recipe and be ensured that you have made a healthy meal. Read more about it here.
Store cupboard tip # 2
Stocking up on some essential Indian spices can make a huge difference to the quality of your Indian meal. These include Badi Elaichi or black cardamom. It is a powerhouse of flavour and I was introduced to this wonderful spice by my mother-in-law. Shah jeera or Caraway seeds is another spice with the power to transform flavours. These spices can be found in London in any Indian/ Bangladeshi shop. I have also found it online in London from companies like itadka.com. They are worth the effort of sourcing and last long if they are kept in air tight containers.
Healthy tip for the day:
Eating healthy starts with buying the right kind of vegetables from your supermarket! It is important to ensure you have some greens in your weekly shop. Kale is usually found conveniently chopped and packed. Spinach is another easily available green. Also look out for vegetables which are purple in colour like purple cabbage and beetroot. The purple colour means that these veggies have a high source of iron and hence very healthy and good for you. You can add these to your raw salads or you can cook them and make them a part of your regular meals. Just substitute them in your regular recipes!
Finally my love for kale has also ensured that I incorporate it as a healthy snack in my range of snacks and sweets at Meghna’s. I call it Amritsari Kale Munchie and it is wonderfully light and crispy and filled with the flavours of Punjab.
Try this Kale Pulao with a simple yogurt raita or with my healthy recipe for Vegetable Jalfrezi.