Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Spinach and potatoes

So you know that I made a spinach dahl and a keema on the weekend. The spinach is a very plain dish, just a mix of lentils and spinach, with quite few spices. I didn't like it as much as the spiced spinach that I've made before, but it's a respectable side dish. It's not a star, but quite nice when you add a dollop of Greek yoghurt for a bit of tang. We've had this for dinner on Monday and Wednesday, accompanying the keema.

The keema is a standard repertoire: last year I blogged about a keema variant with kangaroo and beans. This one was beef, with peas. And I had fresh coriander, so no need for the preserved substitute.

On Tuesday I made ham steaks, with steamed broccolini and asparagus, and braised new potatoes. I must have mentioned the trick with ham steaks: do not buy ham steaks! Buy ham and slice it up. Panfried with a little honey to glaze and brown, they came up nicely. And the spuds were terrific, as they always are with this method.

Recipes for the potatoes and spinach follow.

Recipe 1: Braised New Potatoes

8 medium sized new potatoes
25g butter
3 cloves garlic
fresh herbs to taste (optional)
1/2 cup water

* Wash potatoes well, and pop them in a saucepan with a good fitting lid. Try to get a pan large enough for the spuds to go in a single layer.
* Peel the garlic and flatten each clove roughly with a knife blade.
* Add butter, water, and garlic to the saucepan.
* Cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to move things around.

Notes: These are good with some rosemary or thyme - chuck some fresh herbs in with the garlic, butter and water. And serving them with nice sprinkle of sea salt is ideal; or Murray River pink salt.

To make more, you could use a larger pan, or just stir them more often if you have to go to 2 layers. Add a bit more water to start it at about 1 cm depth. The potatoes are sort of half fried and half steamed, and definitely not boiled.

Recipe 2: Spinach Dahl
500g spinach
100g green lentils
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon cumin seed
2 small dried chillies, crumbled
1 tablespoon light oil
salt to taste
25g butter (optional)

* Wash lentils, and soak for 3 hours (or longer - overnight in the fridge is OK)
* Simmer lentils in plain water until soft but not mushy.
* Drain and set aside.
* Heat oil, add cumin seed and chillies and let them crackle a bit.
* Add chopped onion and cook until golden and soft
* Add garlic and spinach, and cook until spinach is wilted.
* Add lentils, and simmer for half an hour for flavours to meld.
* Add salt to taste, and stir through butter before serving.

Notes: Recipe from Favourite Indian Food, by Diane Seed. She says that although it's from Madras, it's delicate and mild, to use as a soothing accompaniment to the more fiery dishes. She's right, I guess, though spinach has a strong flavour of its own, which totally dominates this dish.

And yes, that's a lot of spinach. It's more a spinach dish than a lentil one. Frozen spinach can be used to save effort. I skipped the butter this time.

The quantity is much too large for the two of us, even for two meals. I'll be freezing some to use later. With the leftovers, I'm thinking of adding paneer and spices, or making a frittata.

No comments: