Ideally I like to start my posts with something positively philosophical or interestingly funny. Today’ s post however is neither, because if I can be truly honest with you, after more than three sleepless nights in a row, I got out of bed feeling neither positive nor funny! On the contrary, I woke up and wretched my gut out (sincerest apologies if that is too much information)!
Why so much drama mama, you might wonder? Well! Last few days, my life here in Hong Kong has been nothing close to anything that I had ever remotely imagined. Yeah right! Who was I kidding! When has anyone’s life panned out as expected ever! Just a few weeks ago, as my husband and I sat enjoying (a very very rare) date night/anniversary dinner at one of our favourite restaurants , we made some promises to- learn from the year that had gone by, appreciate each other more, try and walk in each other’s shoes a bit before jumping to conclusions and be fully present during the precious times we were together as a family- in short, accept and flow! 2019 had been a tough year and we were all but ready to put that behind us and embrace the new year!
Little did we know that destiny had mega plans to put our plans to test, a bit too soon, may I say. Just as I was gearing to dig into some juicy work projects and enjoy the beautiful Chinese New Year with the family, all hell broke loose. Out of nowhere the Wuhan Pneumonia or what most media folks are now terming as WuFlu started to spread like wildfire in China. And while most Hong Kong folks do not consider themselves a part of China, geographically speaking we aren’t all that far! And ever since the news of this deadly, possible pandemic was out (coinciding perfectly with the CNY holidays), most people in Hong Kong (me included) got into panic mode! And could we be blamed? Some of us had lived through SARS and the rest had heard some horrific stories about it. But then none of us had expected to go through an equally testing phase yet again!
We got to know of the outbreak some time around Thursday last week, January the 23rd to be precise and as the human tendency is, we hoped all will be well, not knowing the extent of spread. Come Saturday morning and every newspaper and social media group was rife with discussions and news about this possible pandemic. Cooped up indoors , I spent every waking hour either talking or reading about this new strain of virus and vehemently hoping for some positive piece of news. But there was none. By Sunday evening , cabin fever had got to me and I started to imagine every possible symptom in me. And almost as if I had willed it, by Tuesday evening both me and my kids started to show symptoms of common cold. As things are in such circumstances, I dreaded the worst and almost saturated them with home remedies and gallons of vitamin C. By the evening of 30th January my eldest started to get better, but the youngest not so much. Headache (one of the possible symptoms of the illness) seemed to have become my new best friend ( which could have been more because of anxiety and non stop screen time than anything else) and littlest was taking a turn for the worst. He coughed all night , needless to say, I could not sleep, shed some tears and imagined all possible dreadful outcomes, weighing my decisions to inform family or not if something was to happen. In the morning I got out of bed, could not stand steady, found my way to the bathroom and puked my innards out. I am not the coolest head to be around but this even for someone like me was unprecedented. Melodramatic as it may sound, it did help to clear my head and the husband helped to take a paediatrician appointment .
Now, as I sit here typing this blog post, we are back home from the ped after being reassured it is not a scary infection and with some neurfen and panadol and plenty of TLC, should wear off in a few days’ time. A trouble seems huge until a greater one strikes. Suddenly caring for a sick toddler and managing and entertaining two young children, cooped indoor 24/7 seems way easier than it did a few days back. I keep going back to the moment when the doctor said it was nothing to worry about and I could not be more grateful in that moment. The scare of this dreadful epidemic is far from over and we still stand in the eye of the storm , however I now understand that all the negative news needs to be taken with a pinch of salt and all my energy needs to be focussed on staying safe rather than imagining probable outcomes. And most importantly, keeping faith in the power of positive thinking !
While this is probably not the best preamble to this easy-peasy and deliciously nutritious recipe I am about to share, I feel it is pertinent given the testing uncertain times we are in.
Spinach-Tofu flavoured with Peanut Chutney Powder! Simple recipes are always the best!This one is my goto during winters when we want something quick and flavourful. The Peanut chutney is the bomb!
Although there are quite a few popular versions of this peanut podi or chutney that use coconut, the version I share here does not. I am a huge podi fan and I cannot choose between the two.
I have another saag-tofu recipe on the blog and this one is a spin off on the same, except its much spicier thanks to the Peanut Chutney Powder and minus tomatoes. You can however control the spice level by reducing the amount of red chilies in the powder but it is not recommended as both spinach and tofu are great at balancing the spice. I recommend using the firmest variety of tofu available in the market for best results. So, without further ado, here is the recipe
- Peanuts with skin, shelled- 1 cup
- Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
- Coriander seeds- 1 tsp
- Vegetable Oil- 1/2 tsp
- Dried red chilies- 12-15
- Garlic,peeled- 1 head
- Spinach, finely chopped- 5 cups
- Hard Tofu cut in desired size pieces-1.5 cups
- Garlic, finely chopped- 2 teaspoons
- Cumin- 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder -1/2 teaspoon
- Green chilies-2 (optional)
- Mustard oil-1.5 teaspoon
- Salt-1 teaspoon or as per taste
- Peanut Chutney Powder- 3 tbsp or as per taste
- Toasted coconut slivers for garnish
- Dry roast the peanuts lightly in a thick bottomed frying pan over medium heat, turn off the heat and peal off the skin by rubbing them between the palms of your hands
- Dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat until light brown, turn off the heat and keep aside
- Add 1/2 tsp vegetable oil to the same pan and roast the dried red chillies for a few minutes on medium heat till they turn a shade darker, add garlic and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes
- Bring all roasted ingredients to room temperature and grind in a high speed blender to a coarse powder so it retains its texture; over blending might "cook" the peanut and make the blend slightly sticky as fats release
- Heat oil in a thick bottomed skillet and stir fry tofu till light brown; drain excess oil from the tofu on a kitchen towel and keep aside
- To the same pan, add cumin seeds, garlic and turmeric and stir till the spices start to crackle. Be careful to not burn them or it would make the dish bitter
- Add spinach,cover and cook till almost done; Then uncover and let the excess water dry out on a low flame; stir intermittently
- Add tofu and salt ,mix well and simmer for another 2-3 minutes
- Turn off heat, add the peanut chutney powder and mix well; garnish with toasted coconut slivers and serve with hot phulkas or daal and rice