Here is a recipe which I am very pleased with – it is an adaptation of one of Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian vegetable dishes and it is simple, authentic and doesn’t taste like it came out of a jar. Most importantly, it doesn’t have an intimidatingly long list of ingredients but sort of tastes like it does.
I diced an onion and sauteed it in a mixture of canola oil and a smallish lump of butter. While it was gently sauteing and becoming ‘glassy’ I diced two medium-to-large potatoes (1 cm dice) and threw them in as well. (Into…my flame-orange Le Creuset which as it happened was exactly the right size for this dish. AS it is for most of my dishes. I love it so.)
I also put in 3 roughly-chopped cloves of garlic.
Now the reason I put onions and garlic in is because I defy those ultra-vegetarian Indian dishes that proscribe onion and garlic because it heats your blood and inflames base lust. I personally have no problem if my curries inflame people’s base lust, so in they go.
Also the alternative is asafoetida, and really, people, I don’t care what anyone says, that stuff a. is smelling-salts and b. has ‘foetid’ ACTUALLY in its name.
Anyway when the onion, potato and garlic was merrily sizzling (and sticking) away, I sprinkled in 1 level teaspoon of cumin seeds, 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of chilli flakes and a heaped teaspoon of turmeric, as well as a good few grinds of pepper and a large pinch of Himalayan Crystal salt (as that is the salt I use for cooking. It’s supposed to be good for migraines. Preventing them, that is, not causing them.)
I stirred it all around for a while until the potatoes were basically done and there was a lot of stuck scumble on the bottom of my FABULOUS ENAMEL CASSEROLE DISH WHICH I ADORE *cough*.
And then, I washed a large punnet of baby spinach leaves. Normally I would use a bunch of silverbeet. I usually de-stem and de-rib the leaves, wash them well, then wilt them in boiling water, refresh them in cold water, squeeze them out, and finely chop them. But sometimes I am tired and can not be arsed. SO baby spinach is the solution. You could use adult spinach, frozen spinach, beetroot leaves, rainbow chard – whatever you like. Even spinach is not *actually* saag, that is a spinach-like plant that grows in Kashmir among other places. But I digress.
I chopped the baby spinach leaves and threw them in with about 1/4 cup of water. While they wilted down, I scraped all the scumble off the base of the saucepan. When it is ready I often serve it with another kind of curry, normally a meat one.
This recipe is pretty well exactly the same as the original adaptation-of-Madhur-Jaffrey’s beetroot and tomato curry. To make that, used diced beetroot instead of potato – I use it raw, peeled and diced, and simmer the curry for ages, but you could also bake or microwave, then peel and dice. You can use fresh tomato, but I usually use tinned diced romano tomatoes. You will need more water (if you use raw beetroot) and make sure it doesn’t stick as there is heaps more sugar in beetroot and tomato. it is also amazingly delicious. Much better than you would expect. Just remember the next day that you ate loads of beetroot – you are not haemorrhaging.