2

I am a huge fan of spinach after Popeye! It packs a flavorful punch as a side dish and a main course dish. But somehow whenever I try to make a halva out of spinach I fail badly. Either spinach loses its punch or else it gets all bitter. How do we make spinach taste sweet but at the same time not lose all of its flavors? Also I intend to lose the astringent-y after taste that spinach has.

  • I've removed the recipe request part of your question - that kind of thing is too broad to work well here, and is in fact one of our main question close reasons. But the preserving flavor part of the question is a good question! It'd be great if you could you also let us know specifically what kind of dessert you're trying to make. Just sweetened spinach? Or spinach as part of some kind of baked dessert, pie or something? – Cascabel Sep 16 '16 at 4:53
  • Hello @Jefromi, thanks for correcting the question. I have always loved spinach and wish to make a "Halva" using it. – user50547 Sep 16 '16 at 5:11
  • @Jefromi, I had used "Dessert" in the heading because I wanted to keep things a little broad in order to borrow ideas from people who may know how to handle a sweet dish with spinach but not precisely Halva. Maybe someone knows how to make a sweet spinach pie or maybe if someone knows a spice mix that could mellow down the bitterness of spinach. It was my perception for using that specific heading. If it is ok with the guidelines and of the website, and you deem it fit, please change the heading. Thanks! – user50547 Sep 16 '16 at 6:03
  • If someone wants to suggest additional ingredients to balance bitterness or astringency, they're still free to do so. But asking generally for spices, ingredients, and recipes as you did very much turns it into a broad recipe request. As for halva vs all desserts, I'd really suggest just asking about your core goal. That way you again avoid making your question too broad and inviting people to just list off every possible kind of dessert. It's your question, you can certainly add in bits if you want, but if you end up with something that invites dozens of possibilities, it's likely too broad. – Cascabel Sep 16 '16 at 6:58
  • @Jefromi Laser pointing our query may lead to people not even suggesting what they know because title of my question pin points to a particular dish whereas apart from making a halva from spinach I do need input upon keeping flavors intact while sweetening spinach. Also heading attracts a person's attention and if someone doesn't know what "Halva" is, I guess he would shy away from the question itself but may be he knows something useful for me to borrow! In my opinion cooking is more of an art than a science. One has to borrow ideas and experiences from people who share similar interests. – user50547 Sep 16 '16 at 7:10
1

So, there's maybe a few things I found to reduce the astringency or bitterness of spinach. If you can reduce the bitterness to a flavor you like first, rather then relying on the sugar to mask or balance astringency (which it doesn't hide so much) - you can probably end up with a better dessert.

One thought is that blanching the spinach will help counter bitterness. briefly boil your washed spinach, and discard the water. If you're intending to further cook the spinach afterwards (as in making a fruit-based halwa), cold shocking it might not be needed - It's possible that discarding the water will be enough, though of course you can try with and without the cold shock to see what works for you.

Another thing is astringency can be countered or hidden by soaking in different substances - Adding a bit of milk or fats to your final recipe (as in some of the fattier nut-style halwas) should help balance a little bitterness, Pre-soaking the spinach in milk and discarding might work to draw out some of the astringency. Soaking in food grade lime or absorbic acid like lemon juice or vitamin C, might also work.

Another option is to consider the source of your spinach - fresh baby spinach (for example) will likely not have as much of the bitterness in it to begin with, compared to a cooked full grown spinach. Baby spinach is mild enough to be eaten straight in a salad, mild enough that it might even be candied, like rose petals, for a garnish after your dish is complete.

You might also consider whether the spinach will work better as a flavoring agent or as a bulk agent in your halwa - many fruit based halwas (which seems the easiest method) simply stew the fruit with sugar for a long cooking period, so you need to make sure the spinach as a whole is not going to turn bitter or change while cooking. Other types of halwa may use different ingredients, for different effects - a jelly based or nut-based halwa might easily be flavored with spinach juice... juice which can be extracted at any point along the process, from raw to well-boiled. Leaving the solids behind may help reduce unwanted flavors - or just make the juice more controllable (that is, extract the juice when it is a flavor you like, and the lack of the rest of the plant might keep it form changing overmuch).

You might even consider pairing your spinach with another fruit or vegetable, something complementary or neutral for the bulk removed if you go the juice route - something mild and vegetal might mellow the spinach taste without overriding it (especially if you watch the proportions and use more spinach flavor, less other flavors). Maybe watercress, or celery, asparagus, or bellpepper, something like that that tastes green, or tastes good with spinach. Or you could find a flavor that goes well with the spinach - citrus, or apple, or berries - the kind of flavors that show up on sweet dressings for fresh spinach salads.

  • Hi @Megha, thanks for the answer. I have myself tried frying spinach in ghee, the same technique we use while cooking raw turmeric to making it lose its bitterness and astringency but the same didn't seem to work for spinach. I particularly liked your idea to use baby spinach and blanch it hot milk in order to lose its bitterness. Also the part where you told to use spinach juice as a concentrate in halva and balancing its flavors gave me a light bulb. I have noticed that pairing nutmeg along side spinach works wonders. I'd use these ideas and would work them through to make a halva for sure. – user50547 Sep 16 '16 at 23:38
  • @SaurabhCooks - I'm glad you found my thoughts useful! Your recipe sounds really neat, I'd like it if you let me know how it goes once you've had a chance to try it out... I know at least one person who might like it as well :) – Megha Sep 17 '16 at 17:51
  • I am carving out a game plan to successfully make a spinach halva this time around using all the discussed ideas. Will share with you observations and results of my experiment. Wish me luck! – user50547 Sep 18 '16 at 0:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy