Kolmi shaak baaja is a classic, slightly lesser-known Bengali-style side dish. This quick, easy, vegan water spinach stirfry is all about the greens and is flavoured with just a few ingredients classic to this cuisine. If you find a bunch of kolmi shaak, don’t forget to try this recipe and share with us your feedback.
My parents taught me to be fearless with vegetables. The common thing they say is to try it.. you will know! This has actually saved me a lot many times especially when I move from one country to another. Now I am able to confidently try a new set of greens with a fair approximation of how they will taste. A huge thank you to my parents to set this trend alive in me.
After moving from Malaysia I had not seen water spinach. The bunches in the greengrocer were certainly a surprise. So here we go again with a few dishes across the regions I travel all made with water spinach.
What is water spinach?
Water morning glory, water spinach, kangkong, vayal cheera, swamp valley greens are all Ipomea aquaticus. This green leafy species is a water-loving plant, just as the name suggests. The leaves are slightly conical and dark green. The stem is tube-like, suggesting the aquatic nature. The leaves and the tender twigs are edible. The soft twig snaps till where it is edible, therefore cleaning is pretty much like snapping of asparagus. Don’t forget to check the leaves on both sides for bugs. This leafy green is know for its laxative property along with high mineral content.
Precautions while buying water spinach
Do not pick up this green if you are not sure of the source as it is a plant used in water remediation. Since plant loves to absorb minerals in large quantities, growing them near toxic sources helps to clean the water. Spinach sourced here is unsuitable for consumption as it may have toxic metals. Preferably pick up the greens from where you know their growth is or with clear labelling.
Ingredients to make this kolami shaak baaja
Water spinach: check the leaves ad snap off the tender stalks of the kolmi shaak. Wash thoroughly and drain. Chop the greens roughly, the stalk I chop bit smaller than the greens.
Spices: to add to the smokey flavour of mustard oil, it is kala jeera and ajwain that infuses the oil. Follow this up with garlic and red chillies. Now, these two depend on the flavour you prefer to have. For this dish, I choose to use a bit more garlic and keep the red chillies intact so they release the flavour, not the heat. If you want to have a spicier flavour, split the chillies.
Oil: you can’t miss the classic mustard oil flavour in this dish. It gives it that unique smokey intensity that it really needs. I don’t have any swaps here as another will just change the flavour altogether. We have used mustard oil to make Dal pitha and dudh sukto on this blog.
The recipe card below carries the detailed step-by-step recipe to make this baaja. You can save it onto your pinboard directly from here. When you make this recipe share with us how you paired it or how you liked it and please rate the recipe with a 5-star rating.
Kolmi shaak baaja
- frying pan
- Cutting board
- 1 tsp mustard oil
- 1/2 tsp carom seeds
- 1/4 tsp Nigella seeds
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1-2 dry red chillies
- 2 cups water spinach chopped
- salt to taste
- Wash, check and snap off the water spinach to get the tender part of the twig.
- Chop the spinach and set it aside till needed.
- Into the frying pan add the oil and set on medium heat.
- Add the spices and garlic to the frying pan.
- Let the spices sizzle and infuse the oil.
- Add the greens and saute them well.
- Sprinkle the salt.
- Cover and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Open and saute till the water is evaporated.
- The kolmi shaak baaja is now rady to be served.
Can I make this baaja with other greens?
The same baaja can be made with any soft greens. So far, I make this with English spinach (palak), amaranth leaves, Swiss chard, Chinese mustard, beet greens or broccoli greens. You can try the same with the greens you have as well.
The kolmi shaak baaja with some steamed rice and dudh shukto made us a wonderful dinner. Hope you enjoy the experience of a small Bengali cuisine platter. Finish off the meal with the unique plastic chutney recipe. Save up this recipe onto your pinboards to use later.
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