Indian-spiced Kale

Here’s a nice, really simple way to serve kale. It’s a bit of an adaptation of a recipe from Vegetarian Indian Cookery by Shehzad Husain, although she uses green beans. The sweetness of the kale goes really well with the heat of the spices and the bitterness of asafoetida. Asafoetida’s a spice that can be difficult to get hold of: your best bet is to try an Asian supermarket. We got our jar from Daily Bread in Cambridge – you use so little that it lasts for ages. If you can’t get hold of it, then you get a similar balance of flavours by using a generous squeeze of lemon juice at the end.

Spicy Kale

4 good handfuls of kale (if anything, over-estimate a bit, as it shrinks)
2 fresh tomatoes, cut into eighths (optional)
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp asafoetida (if you can find it, otherwise a squeeze of lemon juice)
2cm piece of ginger, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped


Start by wilting the kale. Wash it and then chuck a handful into a large heavy-bottomed frying pan set on a high heat. Add a little water if necessary & cook until it goes floppy & changes colour. Repeat for the rest of the kale & set aside on a plate.

Heat up the oil in the frying pan on a medium heat & add the mustard seeds. Meanwhile chop the wilted kale into reasonably thin bits on your chopping board.

When the mustard seeds pop, add the coriander, asafoetida (if you’re using it), chili powder & ginger. Stir fry for a minute or so then add the garlic and the kale.

Stir well over the heat & add the tomatoes if you’re using them. If you don’t have asafoetida, squeeze the lemon. Stir together for 2-3 minutes.

Check seasoning & serve. It’s nice with a dal and some breads.

Cook’s note

This recipe is good with any dark green veg, like spinach, chard or purple sprouting broccoli.

One thought on “Indian-spiced Kale

  1. Lemon isn’t a substitute for asafoetida! Asafoetida or hing has a very strong onion/garlic flavour, so adding onion and extra garlic would be a direct replacement. Adding lemon juice in place of it would be a different (though equally good) recipe.

    I notice that your recipe has no onion (perhaps you don’t like it or it disagrees with you) and, of course, if you use asafoetida, you don’t need it. If you substitute onion for asafoetida, then the onion needs to be cooked until dark golden, so the order of adding ingredients may need adjusting.

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