The chief sources of Vitamin A are green leafy vegetables including taro black/green arum leaves (kalo / shobuz kochu shak), helencha shak, drumstick leaves (sajina shak), indian spinach (pui shak), bottle gourd leaf (lau shak), jute leaves (pat shak), amaranth red leaf (lal shak) and spinach (palak).
No authentic Bengali cuisine is served without a dish of shak bhaja (which is eaten first).
Here is the recipe for lal shak bhaja.
- 2 bunches – fresh laal shak (red amaranth)
- 1 tbsp whole black mustard seeds
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1 tsp poppy seeds (posto)
- 1 ½ tsp oil, for frying
- 10-12 chhoto bori bhaja (optional)
- 1 tsp coconut, grated (optional)
- 10-12 peanuts, roasted (optional)
- Wash, clean the laal shak thoroughly and finely chop the shak, only leaves and soft branches just above the hard roots.
- Heat oil in a kadhai / non-stick pan, add mustard seeds and let them splutter.
- Lower the flame, add chopped shak and stir fry.
- Add salt and sugar. (Remember shak do not absorb salt, so be careful while adding salt or else the dish will be too much salty).
- Cook in medium flame. Stir fry till salt & sugar are completely absorbed.
- (You do not have to add water as water will be released from shak, and it will be cooked in that water only).
- Cover the kadhai / pan, reduce the flame and simmer.
- Check from time to time and stir occasionally so that the shak do not stick to the bottom of the kadhai / pan.
- Cook till the shak is tender and done. Dry the excess water.
- Sprinkle poppy seeds, mix and remove from fire.
- Garnish with either bhaja bori / grated coconut / peanuts (as desired).
- Serve hot with steamed rice.