A watery soup with whole haaq leaves cooked with just a hint of mustard oil, green chilly and asafoetida, some coarse grain rice and boiled eggs. Absolute comfort on a foggy day of December. The kind of meal that makes you feel the warmth and yet keeps you light.
Haaq is one of the most tasty greens that I have ever discovered and I love it in soups and light watery stir fries. I had brought back a large bunch of haaq greens from Leh once, all packed nicely in the heavy luggage I was carrying, and it has been a favourite greens since then, I get it from INA market mostly now, interestingly available throughout the year.
The most common way to cook haaq in my kitchen is just pressure cooking the whole leaves with a tempering of hing and chillies with mustard oil. The final result is so fragrant and flavourful you wont believe it if you haven't cooked it yourself. Just the kind of foodie stimulation you need in winters, a hot meal bursting with flavours, not much work to do in the kitchen and a meal in a deep bowl that you love holding into your freezing cold fingers. You might like to have a blended soup with haaq leaves and tomatoes too.
I like to use the haaq leaves whole and not chopped. The thick stems are not discarded, just the woody parts are peeled off if required and the leaves are rinsed well before cooking. Here I enjoyed this haaq soup with saathi rice and boiled eggs. Saathi is a variety of rice that matures in 60 days, a coarse, glutinous rice that is on the verge of getting lost from the culinary scene of India. One odd family in a village might be growing this rice as we get it very rarely. Read my article about saathi rice in Down to Earth magazine and a detailed post at Banaras ka Khana and know more about saathi rice.
This meal is a simple yet balanced and very very flavourful and can be a satisfying meal for me anytime, the husband would like this meal when he has eaten too heavy the previous day. Yes this meal makes complete sense if you have overindulged in the festive season.
haaq greens 500 gm (use spinach or knol khol leaves or a mix of the two if you don't get haaq)
mustard oil 1 tbsp or a little more
pinch of hing
2 broken red chillies and one green chilly or to taste
salt to taste
500 ml water
Heat the oil in a pressure cooker pan.
Tip in the hing and the chillies, let them sizzle a bit before dumping in all the haaq leaves. Add salt too.
Toss them all for a few minutes till they start wilting.
Add the water, cover the lid and cook till the whistle blows. Take off heat and cool down, open the lid and check if the thick stems are cooked through, cook a bit more if not.
Serve hot with 2 tbsp sticky rice of any variety and halved eggs. This soupy curry can be a part of any elaborate menu or can be liquidized to make a flavorful soup as well.