It dawned upon me very late that water spinach abundantly used in stir-fried Chinese greens that are served as accompaniments to most Chinese meals, are in fact available to abundantly right under our nose, just that we call it Kolmi shaakh. Ever since this revelation, there was no looking back. Kolmi is something found in our city round the year, and literally for throwaway prices, maybe because most ‘modern’ households do not know any better than picking up spinach, irrespective of whether its season or not. I’ve got nothing personal against spinach but I find it a bit obnoxious when we encourage price bias of certain items when there are much better local alternatives available – at least try out something different with local greens.

This recipe though is a pretty popular local Bengali recipe, age-old and absolutely simple, as Bengali vegetarian recipes are meant to be. One of the reasons I love our vegetarian recipes is because there is usually bare minimum flavouring from spices, vegetables are mostly cooked in their own juices with minimal or no water added. Yes it may need slightly more attention than a pressure cooker sabzi but the veggies retain their own taste without any reliance on spices.

prawns kolmi


  • Water spinach leaves: 3-4 cups, chopped coarsely
  • Garlic: 2 large cloves
  • Prawns: 7-8 pieces, whole, medium sized, deveined (shelling is optional)
  • Green chilly: 1 no, chopped
  • Turmeric powder: a pinch (optional)
  • Mustard oil: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste


  • Heat oil in a frying pan till it reaches smoking point
  • Add in the chopped garlic, wait for the aroma to emanate
  • Add in the prawns, pinch of salt and an optional pinch of turmeric powder
  • Fry till prawns are translucent
  • Add in the water spinach and the chopped chilly
  • Season, stir vigorously on high heat and turn off the heat when the leaves wilt.
  • Serve with rice like the bongs do.