August unfolded into September. Winter clothing, kitchenware in mini sizes, mom's spice powders, traveler's check, books, boots were scattered all over my room. House swarmed with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and friends to bid farewell to me. Wishes, advises, tips, warnings were echoing from my walls even after they left. I packed my suitcases and was getting ready to conquer the Queen's land. It was the day before I was leaving to England.
I was standing in the check-in line at the Chennai airport and thinking how the gray and cold days of UK going to treat me.Hiding my tears that were ready to roll down, I waved my hands with a broad smile to my parents standing in the visitor's lounge. With an alcoholic co-passenger,a boring movie and cold food, I reached Heathrow airport on a 10hour straight flight.
I had finally arrived. Like a kid in the candy store, I ogled with so much excitement at the sight of the biggest and busiest airport in the world. There was 3 hours left for my connecting flight to Manchester. I sat in one corner of Terminal 1 and researched the pennys, pounds my dad gave it to me (those currencies were new to me then) and simultaneously gazed at the mad crowd that were running around. There were no known face to recognize and no warm smile to reassure. I closed my eyes and inhaled a lungful of butter, vanilla, sugar , coffee. (Chuck the coffee. The idea of me liking coffee will be the opening line of a joke for those who know me.I hate coffee, leave alone its aroma in the air.) Aah! No! Yuck!
There it is, Starbucks - baking lovely goodies. My toes raced to the shop assistant who was packing chocolate croissants but ended up ordering a garden salad from the shop next to it. As I chewed and chewed my cold salad with utmost disinterest, I craved for a huge bowl of hot soup.
From the movies I had seen, from the books I had read, I had painted my own picture of England - cold weather, rains, short days and long nights. I liked it first but later found it so depressing. Everytime I stepped out, the sky was gray and the air was cold. The crisp, freezing air would forcibly kiss my face and leave its dryness all over. Giant jackets, huge gloves and thick boots became my soul mates. I could never let go of them. We were like marriage between two different person, like it or not, we had to stick together. After a whirl wind week of orientation, lab tours and classes, I was craving for some home food. A food that will take me home without a flight, a food that will bring the smell of my home and a food that is affordable.Spinach soup was the first thing I made as a student. It's simple, quick and cheap. A perfect dish to fill the stomach, to heal our homesick hearts, to nourish my nutrients-deprived student body, to comfort us inside out and make us feel alive again. This buttery, peppery,garlicky, spinachy soup fills the kitchen with its lovely aroma and reminds me of home.
For those in South beach diet phase 1 (use 1/4 cup light coconut milk), serve the spinach soup with grilled eggplants,peppers and onions with balsamic vinaigrette or any salad. For phase 2, serve them with 1/2cup cooked rice or 2 whole wheat rotis/chapattis. This soup is also ideal for women with gestational diabetes. Stick with 1/2cup cooked rice or 2-3 chappatti's based on your sugar level (1 hour after meal). For women with gestational diabetes, always consult with your dietitian before starting any meal plan.
In my case, I used to walk for 20 minutes after every meal and when the blood test was done after 1hour, my values were below 140 mg/dl. Your blood work will tell how to play around with carbohydrates. When hungry between the meals, snack with nuts like almonds (15) , pistachios (30), soy nuts (1/4cup), walnuts (15), pecans (15), roasted peanuts (20) or drink 1% milk (8oz).
1 cup spinach - chopped
3-4 garlic pods - minced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup onions - finely chopped
1/4 cup tomatoes - finely chopped
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 cups water
1cup coconut milk (optional)
1 tbs lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the butter in the cooking pan. Once heated, add the cumin seeds and garlic and cook for a minute. Now add the onions, tomato and spinach. Cook for further 2-3 minutes, until the spinach wilts. Mix in the water and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Cover with a lid and cook for 6-8 whistles. Pour the coconut milk and stir. Drizzle the lemon juice and check salt for taste before serving.
Top them with garlicky croutons or pepper pappads and serve hot.