4.29.14 Potato and Spinach Curry (Saag Aloo)
...And we’re back! It’s been a few weeks since my last post, and in that time, besides missing you all dearly, we’ve been doing some serious traveling (and eating of course) in India! And now that we’ve made it back in one piece, I can’t wait to tell you about it!
In short, it was an wonderful experience. We saw so many amazing things and met so many incredibly nice people. We saw camels, monkeys, water buffalo, and nilgai. We toured the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort in Uttar Pradesh, went on an evening stroll around India Gate in Delhi, attended a live Bollywood show in Haryana, and sipped gin and tonics beside the Arabian Sea in Goa. It was most definitely an unforgettable trip.
Of course, for me, one of the best parts about this trip was experiencing all of the amazing food India has to offer. Obviously, I ate a lot of food on this trip; I had to try everything! And I was not disappointed. I snacked on idli sambar for breakfast at a Delhi flea market, dal makhani and pulao in Connaught Place, and biryani in Agra. I devoured Goan fish curry and spicy chicken vindaloo right on the beach, and drank fresh coconut water from a roadside vendor in Pitampura. It was all fantastic. I wish we had had more time in India to continue sampling its wonderful cuisine. But alas, like all good things, our trip had to come to an end.
After returning home, following nearly 30 hours of travel, I was a little exhausted. But I quickly recovered from jetlag and immediately started getting excited about attending my first outdoor Dane County Farmer’s Market of the year on Saturday. Although it’s early in the growing season, I still managed a good haul, including potatoes, ramps, shallots and hoophouse spinach. And after thinking about it, I realized that with all of the potatoes and spinach I had just bought, I had probably better make some saag aloo.
Saag is a leafy-green based dish that’s commonly eaten in northern India. It’s usually made with spinach or mustard greens (or a combination), and other ingredients such as potato (aloo) or paneer are sometimes added as well. Inspired by the saag dishes I had in India, I went about making my own version using my newly acquired farmer’s market purchases. The result is a beautiful, bright green, slightly spicy dish that goes great with naan or basmati rice and a dollop of tangy yogurt. For extra credit, you can mix your yogurt with some grated cucumber, a pinch of salt, a little cumin, and some chopped cilantro or mint to make a tasty raita sauce. It’s fantastic.
Potato and Spinach Curry (Saag Aloo)
- 1 lb potatoes, cut into ½” cubes
- ½ lb spinach, tough stems removed
- ½ inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 serrano or jalapeno chile roughly chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp butter or ghee
- ½ tsp garam masala
1. Place potatoes in a saucepan and add just enough salted water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then cook until potatoes are tender, but still able to hold their shape, about 8 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
2. In a food processor or blender, combine the spinach, ginger, garlic, chile pepper, and the reserved 1 cup of potato cooking water.
3. Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and cumin and saute until onion is soft and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Add the potatoes, and cook for another minute, mixing well.
4. Add the spinach mixture to the pan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Stir in butter and garam masala, season to taste with salt. Serve with basmati rice or naan, and yogurt.