Green and Gorgeous

I am always trying to research on how best to incorporate greens in to our family’s diet. I always knew I should be eating way more than I am getting in right now. Growing up in Sri Lanka my mom always made one or more dishes with leafy greens every single day, no matter how busy she was. She would spend hours on chopping greens so fine to make malluma or mix it in to curries. It always was so good. Maybe that why I don’t like green smoothies to date. No offense smoothie friends and
dear husband.

When we moved to USA me and my husband went hunting for greens that would make good malluma in supermarkets. It was always kale and collard greens that would make a good fit. We used to buy big bunches of kale and make mallam with it and wonder why it doesn’t taste as good as back as home. We used different oils and quick stir fry the greens. It still didn’t do the trick. And eventually kids were born and life got in the way and when it got to the point we have to eat more veggies and greens we resorted to do good old lettuce salads or steamed frozen veggies.

I am a lazy cook than my mom. However, craving for that yummy malluma never went away inside. That was until we moved to our own house and stated going to Farmers market for our greens. We started to listen to friends who knew better. Buy farm fresh greens. Soon we realized how much that freshness does matter. Eventually we got to regularly buying from farms and then gravitated towards growing greens in our yard. I still felt something was missing. Curiosity in me was always nagging me about finding local resources and learning more about edible wild greens. I spent hours and hours reading in to what edible greens to use in my cooking that would elevate my malluma in to next level.

What is malluma ? Mallam is the amalgamation of scraped coconut and leafy greens. It is this really wonderful lightly stir fried green of Your choice with mixture of scraped coconut, shallots, green chilies, turmeric and salt. best bet would be kales, collard, parsley, etc..,your less watery greens. Lettuce and
spinach probably won’t fit here because of the tendency to become sticky and gooey. It is also a very forgiving dish you can even incorporate wild edibles greens like pennyworts, sorrel , wild spinach /lambs quarters and Dandelion greens. I always find them in my yard in spring time. ( Please remember to pick from places that don’t use chemicals, know your plants before foraging or maybe you can get lucky in health food store or supermarket.)

Once you have your greens, how do you make mallam?

It is easy. Choose your favorite green or few of them. Wash and pick through them and chop them finely. Preferably by hand, but if you are like me you will probably use a food processor and pulse it down few times. Do not process them too long or they will become a mush and you will be having a smoothie instead. Minimally handled is the best way to go. Then get your scraped coconut. And add pinch of turmeric salt and pepper to taste and good handful of chopped red onions and few slices of green chilies. I like my mallam spicy so I always add more than one and also use red onions. But you can totally opt it out and use non spicy green peppers just to give a peppery hint without spiciness. Also, I like to use red onions or shallots, but you can totally use yellow onions. Now mix them together until well incorporated. Heat your skillet or wok very hot and add the greens. Turn and cook about 30 seconds. As soon as the greens start becoming darker add coconut mixture. Do not worry if some leaves are raw as long as the pan is hot they will keep cooking. Mix well and turn the heat off. Keep mixing or turning gently for a minute or so and turn dark green. Objective is only to get greens just wilted and turn dark green and lightly steamed. Crunchy is totally acceptable so if you have the types of leaves that tastes good raw and you like them that way, just mix the coconut mixture and lime, eat them raw by all means. This dish is very versatile and really up to your preference. If you choose to cook them, take the skillet off the stove and transfer the mallam in to a bowl and add freshly squeezed lime juice. You are done !

You can enjoy your mallam as is, or with bread and butter , in a lettuce wrap with your choice of meat or fish, in a rice bowl or make a toast by spreading some of mallam on top of crusty bread and sprinkle some cheese on top and broiling it for few secs. Really sky is the limit. It is a simple delight I always find very rewarding whenever I make it. I hope you will like it too. please share your comments and variations in the comment section or via facebook with me. I would love to try them out.