This has been a dream come true. We have always wanted to grow this lovely vegetable in our garden. Valche bhajji brings back so many fond memories of home meals. I can remember this vegetable being cooked at home very often when the family wanted to detox. Mum would serve valchebhajji sukke with pej/ kanji ( rice cooked and served with water), galmbi chutney ( dried prawn chutney) or fried fish, and ambe che lonche (mango pickle). A wonderful treat.
At hubby's estate this vege is a favourite. My mil has a huge valche bhajji vine. When we go to the estate mil cooks us a lovely sukke. This vege goes down very well especially with our nephews and nieces, who usually have a competition on who could eat the most number of stems they fondly call bondhu
The journey of our home grown valche bhajji from a stem to a healthy green tender vine has been long and emotional. We brought back 5 stems of the vine from India to the UK following our christmas holiday. At the time UK was in the peak of winter ( including snow). Put them in water on a window sill and watched them everyday for signs of life. There were moments when we lost all hope, with the cold 3 of the 5 stems died. Hubby not ready to give up, potted, nurtured and cared for the remaining 2 stems through the winter months into spring. It took around 4 months for us to see the first signs of life in these stems. And since then they have grown into the most beautiful green vines with extra large green leaves and thick tender green stems.
To manage the growth of the vine hubby trimmed the branches last week. The trimmings were sufficient for a mini feast. We decided to make a simple valche bhajji sukke out of it with minimum spice to retain the flavour of the vegetable. The dish was tasty and enjoyable. Most of all it gave us a sense of VICTORY!!
My version of Valche bhajji sukke:
Recipe for Valche bhajji Sukke
Valche bhajji- 1 large bowl of leaves and stems
Ginger- 2 inches sliced
Green chillies- 3 small slit
Onions- 1 large sliced
Small tomato- 1 no.
Fresh grated coconut- 1 handful
Garlic flakes- crushed 3
Salt to taste
1. Wash valche bhajji leaves and stems. Seperate leaves from main stem and chop large leaves into halves, cut the stems into 4 inch pieces.
2. In a closed vessel place the stems with onions, tomato, green chillies, ginger, coconut, salt, half a cup of water and 1/2 tsp oil , and bring to a boil. Then turn down flame to medium and cook for a few minutes till stems are tender and cooked. Then add the prepared leaves and cook without lid till the leaves wilt and are done. Taste for seasoning.
3. In a pan heat 2 1/2 tsps oil. Add crushed garlic flakes and fry till brown and fragnant. Tip seasoning over the valche bhajji. Serve hot.
Tip: If you leave the vessel open while cooking the leaves, the leaves will retain their natural green colour.
Food Fact: Distantly related to the vegetable spinach is the valche bhajji (in konkani) or Buffalo Spinach in English. Its botanical name is basella alba. This is a fast-growing, soft-stemmed vine with heart-shaped leaves and thick, semi-succulent stems. It is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It is low in calories by volume, and high in protein per calorie. The succulent mucilage is a particularly rich source of soluble fiber, thought to remove mucus and toxins from the body. The plant is also a rich source of chlorophyll.