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The Vegetarian

Spinach Rolls With an East Indian Flair

October 06, 1988|DIANA SHAW | Shaw is a free-lance writer in Los Angeles.

Delectable spicy spinach rolls get their seasoning and method of preparation from Indian vegetarian cookery, which features many combinations of leaves filled with pureed vegetables. While ricotta may seem out of place among the curry spices, it works well as a stand-in for panir, the home-made cheese commonly called for in authentic Indian recipes.

SPICY SPINACH ROLLS

1 medium eggplant, sliced, peeled and cut into small cubes

Coarse salt

2 tablespoons oil

1 white onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

1-inch piece ginger root, minced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons tumeric

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup cooked garbanzo beans

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

12 large fresh spinach leaves, washed and thoroughly dried

4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped

Plain yogurt

Place eggplant in colander and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Cover with paper towel and let drain 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil and saute onion, garlic and ginger until tender. Add cumin, tumeric, coriander, cayenne, allspice and cinnamon. Stir until well blended. Add garbanzo beans and stir to coat with spices.

Pat eggplant dry and stir into garbanzo bean mixture. Add up to 1/4 cup water to keep from sticking. Cover and steam over low heat, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is cooked through.

Remove from heat and stir in ricotta cheese. Transfer mixture to food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Empty into large bowl. Add chopped spinach and stir to blend well.

Place spinach leaf (stem removed) flat on cutting board. Place spoonful of filling near lower edge and fold up from bottom to enclose filling. Fold in sides and continue rolling upwards to make envelope. Set seam side down on rack with very fine grid, so spinach roll will not fall through. Repeat until all leaves are used.

Heat 1/2 inch water in shallow pan. Place rack in pan with spinach rolls above water. Cover and steam 2 to 3 minutes, until spinach turns bright green.

Serve immediately topped with tomatoes and yogurt. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Serve with bulgur wheat or brown basmati rice on side.

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