When I was little and we'd go to our local Indian, my parents would invariably order saag aloo and tarka dhal as side dishes to accompany our various menu selections. Unless I'm cooking for more than our little family, I usually just make a curry and rice, but tend to leave the various side dishes for when we've got guests. I realize that this is a bit of a shame, because no other country than India has such a wealth of incredible vegetarian dishes which are fragrant, nourishing and simple to create.
Tonight, I was serving some lamb curry that I made last week and frozen the leftovers, and so I decided to make this simple potato and spinach dish to accompany it. I'm not sure if it would stand up to scrutiny from the authenticity police, but to me, it tastes every bit as good as any saag aloo I've eaten in a restaurant. With this in mind, feel free to adjust the various spices to taste and let me know what you think.
My Saag Aloo
serves 4, takes approx 30 minutes
5-6 medium-sized floury potatoes (such as Maris Piper or King Edward) Cut into large bite-size pieces
1 large onion, finely diced
150g spinach leaves, thoroughly washed and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cm ginger root, finely grated
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground fenugreek
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp ghee or veg oil
1 red chilli sliced thinly
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil over a med-high heat until shimmery. Add the brown mustard and cumin seeds and stir in the oil for a minute or two until the mustard seeds start popping. Stir the onions through and continue to cook until beginning to brown and soften-about 3-4 mins. Add the potatoes, the remaining spices, salt, 300ml water and the chopped spinach. Stir through to combine, lower the heat to low then cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Check the potatoes with the tip of a knife and if necessary allow to cook for a further few minutes, uncovered until most of the moisture has cooked away and the potatoes are tender all the way through.
Serve by scattering with the sliced chilli and some fresh coriander leaves and lovely with naan bread and mushroom pilao rice.