Weekday Vegetarian: Saag Aloo - Spinach with Fried Potato Balls
Photo: Emma Alter
In my post the other day on the leek tart, I wrote about the New York Times column the Temporary Vegetarian and how delicious their recipes always sound, despite the effort involved. Well, this week's recipe was so alluring, I made it that day. It is, in fact, two seperate recipes put together, so I will give you part one today, and part two with the potatoes tomorrow. You can eat either recipe as a stand-alone dish, but together they are sublime.This recipe makes a mess of spinach, which is not particularly attractive, but the flavours are so wonderful that the appearance is entirely unimportant. This was a huge hit with all of us and I will certainly make it again. I thought I had fenugreek in my cupboard, but apparently didn't, so I did without. Next time I'll get some and see if it makes much of a difference. I also just used regular spinach, not having any access to baby spinach right now. I have fresh bird's eye chilis, but I only put in one because these are particularly strong, so try one then taste. It's a lot easier to add heat than to remove it. For a vegan dish, leave out the butter and cream.
This recipe is from The New York Times, April 25, 2011.
2 pounds large-leaf spinach
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
3 to 4 Thai bird chilis, each about 1 1/2 inches long, seeded and finely chopped
1 pound baby spinach
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1/4 cup dried fenugreek leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
1. Prepare a large bowl of ice water, and set aside. Place a large pot of water over high heat, and bring to a boil. Add large-leaf spinach, and blanch until bright green and tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, immediately plunge into ice water until cooled, and drain again. Squeeze out excess moisture, chop finely, and set aside.
2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add onion, and cook until soft and golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and chilies and sauté until the garlic and ginger are light brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the baby spinach and cook 1 minute. Add turmeric, and sauté 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Add the blanched, chopped spinach. Season with salt to taste. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often. Add fenugreek leaves, butter, nutmeg, and, if desired, heavy cream. Simmer 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. If necessary, lower heat to medium-low. Serve hot topped with, if desired, fried potato dumplings.