Sabzi Chalau, or Spinach with Rice.

In honor of Afghan New Years, I opted to cook a traditional meal since I miss my family and like to hold onto some traditions when I can.Once again, you’ll have to forgive the lack of a proper camera — I’ve yet to unpack from my latest trip. Thankfully I had an old point and shoot with poor quality and terrible flash sitting around.

Spinach is one of my favorite vegetables. I could eat it every single day. Of the many ways to make spinach, one of the tastiest (to me) is a traditional Afghan dish that is complex in flavor despite being so simple to make.

You start off sauteing chopped onions (preferably white/yellow, although I used red) in some olive oil along with minced garlic.

Once translucent, add chopped spring onions or leeks (or both). I only had spring onions available. As these are cooking, add various spices to the mix including:

  • turmeric
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • salt
  • black pepper

Since this blog is all about experimentation, I always encourage you to depart from the spice list. I also added Cavenders out of habit, as well as a touch of ginger and ground mustard. At this point, I decided to add a little bit (1/8 cup) of vegetable broth I had saved in the freezer from a previous meal.

Then I added the fresh baby spinach with stems cut off. You can chop the spinach or toss them in whole, either is fine. I suggest 4-6 cups of spinach but would like to note that I was heavy handed with the onions. My advice would be to use a 4:1 ratio of spinach to onion. Your tastes may vary.

Dropping the heat to medium, I continued stirring the spinach occasionally over the next 15-20 minutes while it cooked through. Added a bit more spices to ensure the spinach absorbed all the flavors. More importantly, you want the spinach to evolve in color from bright green as shown in the pic below to a much darker green as seen in the final pic in this post.Normally, I would have added some chopped tomatoes to the spinach just towards the end. However, I had none and tomato paste would be too strong, so I skipped it. Tomatoes aren’t a mandatory, but that’s just how my family prepares this meal.I served this with white rice cooked that had been flavored with some Cavenders and cumin, and it really turned out delicious.

Total cook time, 30 min and 5 min to prep.

4 cups spinach
3/4 cup onion
1/2 cup leeks
1/4 cup spring onions
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons cavender’s greek seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 cup vegetable broth
2 cups white rice

Makes 4 servings.

Calories: approx 470 per serving.


2 thoughts on “Sabzi Chalau, or Spinach with Rice.

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