Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Spiced Spinach

I called on my new recipe book again today, for a spinach dish to accompany the leftover meatball curry. This is a north Indian one, so I'm mixing cuisines. And then I have a totally invented tomato salad to go with it. Whatever. Fusion, man.

Silverbeet greens can substitute very successfully for spinach in most recipes, and that's what I did tonight. The stems are perfectly edible, but I removed them for this recipe . I'd leave them in for a lot of dishes, but slice them finely so they cook in the same time as the greens.

To clean spinach or silverbeet you need to wash it well in plenty of water; it can be sandy or gritty. With our water restrictions, I don't like to let all that go down the sink, so I wash it in a large bowl, which I then empty into a bucket. And then the bucket goes on to the garden. If I do this for all my veggie washing, I don't need to water the front garden. Yeah, so this is a garden tip rather than a cooking tip, but we do need to watch our water use.

And one final technique tip: a microplane grater is brilliant for grating jaggery or palm sugar. What did we do before these fabulous gadgets? And if you accidentally end up with too much jaggery, just toss it onto some natural yoghurt for a quick dessert.

Recipe 1: Spiced Spinach (Moghlai Saag)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
4 cardamom pods
2 large brown onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 cm piece fresh ginger, cut to thin sticks
1 kg spinach, thick stems removed
pinch salt
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp lemon juice
Heat oil with fennel and cardamom in a large, heavy based pan. Fry for a couple of minutes until aromatic, then add onion and ginger. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown. Add spinach, and cook until well wilted, stirring frequently. Stir in salt, chilli, garam masala and lemon juice immediately before serving.

Notes: I used silverbeet - 1kg is about two standard market bunches. I've altered the quantities a bit. A half cup of fat is not for those of us who need to lose weight. I used a mix of mustard and canola oil; the original recipe has 1/4 cup each of butter, and oil, to 3 onions and 1.5kg spinach. Lemon juice is my own addition; I think it's an improvement.

Recipe 2: Tomato & onion salad
1 large tomato, diced
3 spring onions, green and white, chopped
1 tablespoon coconut vinegar
1 teaspoon grated jaggery
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Mix it all up. Serve.

Notes: I often do this salad with tamarind, but I'd run out. So I looked for something else for the sweet and sour effect.

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