Some sort of stir-fried greens appears at almost every Nepali meal. Here, the spicy bite of the mustard greens is enhanced by the mustard oil. The manner in which Rachana tears the greens into the pan produces a flavor she prefers over chopping them.
2 ½ tsp mustard oil (see Cook’s Notes)
½ lb mustard greens, well-washed and dried
1 tsp ajwain seeds (see Cook’s Notes)
½-inch coin peeled fresh ginger, grated (about ½ tsp)
¼ tsp fine salt
1) Heat the oil in a flat-bottomed wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to smoke, about 1 minute. Add the ajwain and immediately turn off the heat. Tear the mustard leaves from the top down into large pieces, halving any thick stems as you get lower on the leaf, and add to the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and stir to coat with the oil. Add the ginger and salt and let it sit, don’t stir, for 1 minute. Then cover for 1 minute. Then uncover and stir fry until wilted, tender, and the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes.
Mustard oil is a key ingredient in many Asian cuisines. There’s controversy in the United States about its toxicity and its effects on health, and as a result it has been banned for consumption. It has been proven safe in small doses, but is often sold at South Asian markets in the US labeled as massage oil.
Ajwain seeds, popular in Indian cuisine, are slightly bitter and very aromatic, especially when bloomed in hot oil or ghee.