An easy recipe for preparing crispy Kale chips in under 10 minutes in the Air fryer. Also includes instructions on how to bake these chips in a convection oven. The post also answers some of your questions about kale.
Earlier this week, a few of my neighbours dropped in to see my kitchen garden. While some of them had heard of kale as the trending superfood, others were not quite familiar with kale. If you spend a lot of time on the internet, you tend to live in a bubble of cat gifs, green goddess smoothies and crispy kale chips. But there are people living in the real world for whom kale is still alien, and it’s totally fine. I’m going to write about some basics here, including the questions my neighbour friends asked me.
Starting the Kale Q&A in 3,2,1…..
What is kale?
It is a green leafy vegetable, belonging to the Brasicca Oleracea family (same as cauliflower, cabbage, mustard etc.)
What are the Indian names for Kale?
In Hindi, Kale is called ‘karam saag’ but I’m not sure of the success you’ll have if you ask for kale with this name, to your local veggie vendor. Google translate tells me that kale in Hindi is ‘Gobhi ke patte’ – okay then ????
Is kale bitter?
Like many other leafy greens, kale is slightly bitter, but nowhere as bitter as bitter gourd. Cooking down kale or marinating finely chopped kale in lemon juice and salt as in a massaged kale salad almost completely eliminates the bitterness. Foods with a bitter tinge are said to be very good for the liver, so you might as well embrace this quality in kale. The variety I grow – i.e. Tuscan / Dino kale isn’t bitter at all.
Why should we eat kale?
You should eat kale, not because it is a trending vegetable or because it makes you look like a posh foodie. It is truly a nutritional heavyweight – low in calories (35 cals per cup of cooked kale) high in fibre and protein, rich in vitamins, antioxidant and calcium. It is also very good for diabetics.
Is kale available in India? Where can I buy kale?
Gourmet food stores stock up on fancy greens like kale. They do charge a bomb, because the shelf life of these green leafy vegetables is very short and kale is still considered a super exotic vegetable here. I get kale leaves for free because I grow them in my kitchen garden.
WOW! You grow kale?
Yeah, I get that a lot. And I’m not trying to #humblebrag here, but it is much easier to grow kale than it is to grow lettuce, at least in my experience.
How to grow kale in India?
You can grow kale in India, in your garden or using a good organic potting mix in wide pots. I got my seeds from Amsterdam last year, but kale seeds are very much available on Amazon (links below) and sold by reliable seed companies. Place the seeds at 3 inch intervals, just below the surface of the soil. I’m not sure of the sowing season for Kale, but sowing around September/October should give you a crop all through winter and more. In a city like Bangalore with fairly decent weather, you can try this all year round. In my experience, once the big leaves are out, this is a very resilient plant, not affected by the weather or insects/aphids (as far as I have been growing it). It gives a constant supply of leaves. All you need to do is keep snipping as much as you need. I use the freshly coming up tender leaves in a salad and the larger leaves for cooking.
Are there different varieties of kale?
The variety I grow in my kitchen garden is called Lacinato Kale or Dinosaur Kale, because of the texture of the leaves. The leaves are a beautiful bluish green, narrow and long in shape, much milder, no bitterness and a leathery texture. This is also popularly known as Tuscan Kale. These leaves are waxy, there’s hardly find any soil sticking to it. All it needs is one good wash and you can prep it for any dish. Including crispy kale chips????????!
Curly kale is another variety that is dark green with a slight bitterness and sharpness. The leaves have ruffled edges, hence curly kale. The other two varieties are Red Russian and Redbor Kale. I haven’t seen these leaves sold in India though.
How do you use Kale in Indian vegetarian cooking?
When in doubt, any vegetable, leafy or otherwise can be added to dal. So instead of Dal Palak, make Kale Dal. Try a Kerala style Kale Thoran with a garnish of coconut, or a Tamil style Kale Poriyal. I even add chopped kale leaves to khichdi and pulao. Kale kootu takes the place of keerai kootan quite happily. Kale and cauliflower make a really good subzi. Kale can find a place in any Indian curry, along with a melange of other vegetables.
What are kale chips?
Move aside banana chips (lol, just kidding). Kale chips are everywhere. Every healthy snack company in India is trying to make their first million selling these baked crispy kale chips. The Tuscan kale with its hardy, thick leaves lends itself nicely to being baked to a crisp. It is one of my favourite things to do with the generous crop of kale in my kitchen garden. You can sprinkle these crispy kale chips with your preferred spice mix or dip them into a dressing or dip. I use the air fryer to make a batch of kale chips in a jiffy, but you can do this in an oven quite nicely. The only thing you need to take care in the air fryer is that once the leaves get baked to a crisp, they get lighter and they fly to the top of the compartment. Sticking to the coil can burn them. So keep close watch and remove them as soon as it is done.
Air fryer or Oven
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