Soppina mudhdhe palya or cooked greens with lentils

What’s with the name of this dish ?

I think I mentioned in a post before (Fenugreek) that “soppu” in Kannada refers to green leafy vegetables. This includes spinach, silver beet, fenugreek leaves and a whole host of leaves that were easily and regularly available where I grew up in Bangalore. “Soppu” was usually more expensive than vegetables but given it is full of minerals and vitamins, mum never skimped on them. We’d have soppu 2-3 times a week quite easily.

“Palya” is another Kannada word that usually refers to any cooked vegetable. Potato palya, carrot palya, beans palya are commonly heard in a Kannada household. “Mudhdhe” means (to me at least) a sticky ball of rice/rice+lentils/several different flours. The addition of lentils to these cooked greens makes them sticky and if cooked long enough, it can come together into a sticky ball.

In England, I don’t often find the greens that I grew up on and even if I did, I couldn’t tell one from the other because mum and dad always shopped for them not I. So, for this dish, I’ve gone with spinach which you should be able to get your hands on  in most places. In this particular form of the recipe, I use frozen spinach but the fresh kind can be easily substituted. With fresh spinach, expect a lot more moisture and a slightly longer cooking time.

Soppu palya

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The Green Refractory’s Breakfast Stack recreated

If you are ever in Melbourne (why wouldn’t you be in the most liveable city in the world), you have to find a place for brunch (breakfast + lunch) on a Saturday morning. Of the places that I have been to, the place that is at the top of my list is the Green Refractory in Brunswick. The locals call it Cafe Green. It is quintessential Brunswick – hip and hippie, organic, caters for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other diets and makes incredible coffee and chai lattes – especially the soy kind.  So I’d highly highly recommend venturing out to find this place if you like brunches.

Amongst the things I have eaten at the Green Refractory, their breakfast stack is my favourite. Layers of home-made potato cake, tomato chutney, grilled halloumi, spinach, bacon (ask for without if you are a vegetarian), grilled tomatoes and poached egg. In the part of England that we currently reside in, finding brunch is a fantasy leave alone finding good brunch. Deep fried hash browns and baked beans served at 11am really does not equal brunch *sigh*.

So, on weekends that I am motivated enough,  I try and bring back the things we miss about Melbourne – brunch being one of them. This particular weekend, we had our lovely neighbours  over. I made this and my healthy Cranachan to share.

The Green Refractory's breakfast stack in my kitchen...

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Simple spanakopita (Spinach and feta pastry)

Simple dishes can be tasty and not take as much time to make. This is one such recipe. I will admit that I am a bit of a slow cook and my partner has come to accept that if  it is my turn to cook, dinner won’t be served until 8 (if I start at about 6:30 that is). With the spanakopita, we had well and truly finished by 8. Hooray!

I have previously made this pastry with puff pastry sheets and they turn out as well but are on the greasy side. I much prefer the filo pastry sheets where I can control the amount of butter/margarine in the dish. I’m all for fresh vegetables and greens but in this particular recipe, I prefer using frozen spinach as it doesn’t contain as much moisture as its fresh counterpart. Too much moisture will make a soggy pastry so I would squeeze as much water out of the spinach as I could before adding it to the pastry. My favourite part of this pastry is the gooey feta as it comes out of the oven so eat it hot – even if it threatens to burn your tongue.

Spanakopita oozing with sundried tomatoes, spinach and feta

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