Monday, 18 March 2013

Saag Aloo

Some time last year I did an online shop at The Asian Cookshop - I was on a hunt for Kashmiri chilli powder and dried Persian limes. As often happens when confronted by so many interesting ingredients, I ended up with a rather fuller basket than originally intended: candle nuts, ground jaggery, mustard oil, whole dried chillis and a whole host of other things managed to find their way in there. Including dried fenugreek leaves, or methi leaves as they are also known.

Fenugreek is incredibly versatile: it’s seeds are used as a spice and the leaves fresh or dried as a herb. The leaves can also be used as a vegetable and the sprouting seeds and microgreens in salads. Further, as well as being used extensively in the cuisines of the Indian sub-continent it is also often found in Persian, Eritrean and Ethiopian dishes.

So it looks like I will find a multitude of recipes to try it out in (which is good as I managed to buy quite a lot!) but the first of which is a humble saag aloo. One which I have made before but minus the methi leaves. If you can’t get hold of methi then, feel free to leave them out.

You can serve this as a side to a larger indian meal, in which case it will probably serve 4, or 2 as a main.

Saag Aloo
Serves 2-4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cm piece fresh root ginger, finely chopped
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
3 curry leaves
½ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
2 green chillies
¼ tsp chilli powder
300g potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1" cubes
200g baby spinach leaves, chopped
125g tomatoes, chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp jaggery (or sugar)
4 tbsp water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves, crumbled
2 tbsp cream

Heat the oil, in a large saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onion for 10 minutes until softened and starting to turn golden brown.

Turn up the heat a little and add the garlic, ginger, mustard, fenugreek & cumin seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, whole green chillies and chilli powder. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mustard seeds pop and the whole thing becomes aromatic.

Add the potatoes and stir to coat in the spices. Turn the heat back down to quite low and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, jaggery or sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 25-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the spinach and cook for 5 minutes or so until wilted. Stir in the methi leaves & cream and cook for another minute or so.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Serve with plain basmati rice.

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