l took a break from this column to do what the Italians call “dolce far niente” (the sweet art of doing nothing), and at that time, without having to write new recipes, I could eat and cook selfishly, following my own desires. These took me to a small Pakistani curry shop, where I found a potato and spinach curry that I could easily eat every day for the rest of my life. The potatoes were salty and fudgy, like a Spanish tortilla, and the spinach was an oily emerald green tangle that had given up all hope of freshness. It wasn’t innovative (or even very pretty), but it hit it so perfectly I almost screamed, “Bingo!”
Pakistani-style potato and spinach curry
Frozen spinach costs about a quarter of the cost of fresh, and it works great in curries. If you don’t have the herbs on hand, buy small quantities (to reduce overall cost and waste) from respected brands such as fudco or Jalpur Millers at an Asian supermarket or online. For this you need a large saucepan (or deep frying pan) with a lid. Delicious with basmati rice.
Preparation 15 minutes
Cook 1 hour
120 ml rapeseed oil – I love Mr Organic
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 brown onionspeeled and finely chopped
6 cloves of garlicpeeled and finely chopped
3 cm piece of fresh gingerpeeled and grated
1-2 green finger peppersfinely sliced
200 g tomatoesminced meat (or 200g canned chopped tomatoes – ie half a can)
1½ tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground kashmiri chili
2 tsp fine sea salt
450 g maris piper potatoes (ie 2 medium), peeled, halved and sliced 1½ cm thick
1 kg frozen whole leaf spinachthawed
1 lemonsqueezed, to get 2-3 teaspoons of juice
basmati riceto serve
Place the oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat until very hot, then add the mustard and cumin seeds and let it bubble and crackle for up to a minute. Add the onion, cook for eight minutes, until soft and golden brown, then add the garlic, ginger and fresh chillies and cook, stirring, for about three minutes, until the raw garlic smell disappears.
Stir in the tomatoes, ground spices and salt and cook for about five minutes, until you can see the oil separating from the tomato mixture. Add the potatoes, spinach and 200ml just boiled water, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for the last 15-20 minutes, until the moisture is gone and you are left with a delicious, thick curry with tender potatoes that won’t resist a knife.
Stir in the lemon juice and taste: add more lemon juice if needed to balance the sweetness with the tangy spinach-potato mixture and serve warm with basmati rice.