I will keep it short today because it isn’t wise to write a food post on Nirjala Ekadasi, during which we fast, ideally, even from water. Unfortunately, I broke my vow already in the morning because I couldn’t move due to a lower back pain. It’s an ailment that has bothered me for some time, but which I've kept at bay by drinking two cups of warm water upon waking up. I suspect kidney stones but will hear a professional opinion later this week. Despite the drawback, I’m still determined to refrain from food until tomorrow and use the opportunity for increased yoga practice. In the afternoon I will be fortunate to hear sadhu or a saintly person speak on devotional identity, field, purpose and activity.
This nettle, mint and cheese recipe is a version of classic palak paneer. I’ve prepared it once a week since the first wild herbs appeared this spring. It turns out differently each time according to the cooking method and ingredients. Although I wasn’t hundred per cent satisfied with the result, I haven’t had time to redo this particular combination of strong mint and sweet nettle in order to test and improve the recipe. Therefore, please don’t take it literarily but as an inspiration for your own adaptation. Remember, freshly harvested mint is such a dominating flavoring agent that if you omit it, you will have to adjust the spices accordingly. Instead of nettle, you may use any other wild vegetable. For a richer dish, fry paneer.
Nettles sting: use gloves when picking and handling them! They are best eaten before they blossom; after that they tend to become bitter. You can cut the plant several times and it will grow back again. When young, the stems are tender and usable in the kitchen, too.
If you substitute spinach with nettles, take into consideration that they don’t release as much water as spinach leaves.
Nettles are one of the nature’s most valuable sources of iron. They also contain calcium, folic acid, potassium, manganese, carotenoids and vitamin C. Because of concentrated amounts of nitrates, they should be shortly blanched. Use the water in which you boil the nettles to fertilize your houseplants or garden. Fermented nettle-water increases the pH-value of the soil and, thus, improves the health of plants. To make a fertilizer, fill a bucket with nettles and add enough water to cover them; then, let the mixture stand for two weeks, sieve out the water and compost the plants. The dilution ratio of the fertilizer is 1:10.