Pic: English Watercress (Illustrated on a Seed Packet)
Watercress, with its crisp, peppery flavour is my favourite salad green. It’s not often available, and when we did find a bunch, it was not perky enough for a salad. A quick stir-fry with some chickpeas seemed like a good idea.
Any greens would work for this recipe. If you like bitter greens like methi (fenugreek), mustard green or arugula, you will love this veggie. Watecress can often be found in Chinese or Southeast Asian stores.
According to recent medical research, watercress is an anti-cancer superfood. Its daily consumption reduces DNA damage to white blood cells – an important trigger in the development of cancer. Cultivated in pure spring water, watercress has a wide array of vital nutrients.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have located his first hospital close to a stream to ensure fresh watercress to help treat his patients. Greek soldiers were given it as a tonic before going into battle and the 16th Century herbalist Culpepper claimed it could cleanse the blood. It is brimming with more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals. Gram for gram, it contains more iron than spinach, more vitamin C than oranges and more calcium than milk.
We used a combination of low-fat yogurt and non-fat milk powder as a substitute for cream in this recipe.
WATERCRESS WITH CHICKPEAS
3 cups washed and chopped watercress
1/2 cup dried chickpeas (or 1.25 cups cooked)
1/2 cup chopped shallots (or red onion)
3 green chillies, chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 tsp Kashmiri garam masala
2 tsps oil
1 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp cashew powder
1. If using dried chickpeas, soak for 8 hours and cook with salt with plenty of water until soft. (About 3 whistles in the pressure cooker). Drain, save the liquid, and keep aside.
2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the cumin and stir until toasted, then add the ginger, garlic, chillies, shallots and a pinch of salt. Stir, add some salt and cook on medium-high until the onions are light brown.
3. A the turmeric and cayenne, stir for five seconds. Add the greens and salt. Cook for three minutes until wilted.
4. Add the chickpeas along with 1/4 cup chickpea liquid, along with the yogurt and cashew powder.
5. Simmer for 2 minutes. Check the seasonings, add the garam masala, stir and take it off the flame.
Serve with rotis, rice or bread. It makes a great filling for a toasted sandwich.