Stir Fried Winter Greens with Black Mustard Seed & Coconut


Photo by Michael Piazza

This dish from the Gujarat region of India is fast, easy, nutritious and delicious—and instantly reminds me of home. It’s traditionally made using cabbage, but I adapt it in the colder months to use heartier local greens.

Serves 8–10

4 cups shredded hearty greens: kale, collards, Swiss chard or Brussels sprouts
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds (available at Indian groceries)
1–2 green chilies: serrano or jalapeño (slit lengthwise and remove the seeds for less spice)
4–5 fresh curry leaves (kadi patta, optional; available at most Indian groceries)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

½ cup grated coconut, unsweetened, defrosted (available frozen at Indian groceries)
Juice of ½ lime
Fresh cilantro, cleaned and chopped, to garnish

Add the oil to a wok or deep skillet on medium-high, keeping a lid handy. When the oil begins to shimmer, take the lid in 1 hand and add the mustard seeds. Immediately hover the lid loosely over the pan, tilting it away from you. The mustard seeds should start sputtering and popping almost instantly, so the lid helps keep them contained. (Don’t cover the pan with the lid tightly.)

When the seeds stop sputtering (about 30 seconds), add in the green chilies and curry leaves; the curry leaves will crackle loudly. A few seconds later, quickly add the turmeric, the shredded greens and the salt. Toss the mixture vigorously every 15–20 seconds, allowing the greens to fry rather than steam. Do this for about 2–3 minutes, until the greens are crisp-tender.

Add the shredded coconut and give it a final stir. Remove from the heat, add the lime juice and stir.

Serve warm garnished with cilantro, alongside whole-wheat rotis, tortillas or pita bread or with steamed rice. 

This recipe appeared in the Winter 2018 issue as part of a larger story, “An Indian in Winter.”