Yield: 8 – 10 Portions
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Lb Salted Pigtails (½ Inch Chopped & Parboiled)
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
4 Tbsp Minced Onions
3 Pimento/Jalapenos Peppers Minced
3 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
3 Tbsp Chopped Celery
1 Large Bundle (about 4 cups) of Spinach Leaves (Chorai Bhagi)
5 Okras, sliced thinly
2 Cups Parboiled Rice
1 Cup Pumpkin, small diced
1/3 Cup Carrots, small diced
4½ Cups Water
2 Oz Powdered Coconut Milk
½ Tsp Smoked Paprika
2 Tbsp Salted Butter
½ Tsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Chadon Beni/Culantro Minced
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp Chopped Scallions
Boil pigtails in water two times for 20 minutes each time changing out the water to remove excess salt and to precook. Strain, chop into pieces and set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the spinach by washing and breaking off the leaves with small stems included and placing into a bowl – the thicker woody stems are to be discarded which form the root of the spinach bunch.
Place a medium high sided pot on high heat and add in the vegetable oil. When heated, sprinkle in the sugar. Stir and allow it to caramelize into a deep brown color until lava like bubbles appear with puffing smoke.
Add in the pigtails and toss to coat evenly with browned sugar. Allow to sauté for 2 minutes then add in the aromatics; garlic, onions, pimentos, thyme and celery. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
Add in the spinach leaves, okras and stir to allow greens to wilt down in the heat for about 4 minutes.
Add in the rice, pumpkin, carrots and continue to sauté aromatics amidst the rice and other ingredients until rice begins to lightly stick to the bottom of the pan.
In a bowl, whisk together the water and the coconut powder and add to the pot together with the paprika, salted butter and black pepper. Stir well and scrape the bottom of the pot to dislodge any caramelized bits that may be stuck.
Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow bhagi rice to cook until rice is cooked, spinach leaves have wilted through fully and the water has dried up (about 20 – 25 minutes). If rice is not cooked through, add a little more water and continue simmering until cooked.
Add in the chadon beni. Mix then taste for seasonings and add salt and or other spices to your preference at this point.
Remove pot from the heat, then garnish with freshly chopped chives atop.