Saturday, 21 January 2012

A Saag Aloo Round-Up



We had perfect rice cooking techniques, then we had naan bread and now we have Saag Aloo.  This is probably my most favourite friday-night-on-the-sofa meal. It is vegetarian but really, from one meat eater to… perhaps some others, you won’t miss it here.

I made this for lunch on the boat, served with a crunchy salad which rattled with toasted flaked almonds and bean sprouts, served with a yoghurty, lemony dressing full of zing and zest. And homemade Peshwari naans to complete things.

The great thing about the saag aloo is that it is so satisfyingly filling and tasty. Served with some grilled, fiery red tandoori spiced chicken breasts, this becomes a truly hearty feast of tummy rubbing proportions; naan bread, chutneys, yoghurt and papadums – oh yeah. But the saag aloo on its own is a perfect partner to any girls Friday night on the sofa with a glass of wine and some soft doughy naan to mop up. Pyjamas and a good movie with Robert Downey Jr in and what more could there be to satisfy? I ask you.

And as you can see (out of my fantasy box) it makes a great crew lunch on a cold boat too, served with a salad. Slightly different take there but just as welcome.



My version is quick and basic but tastes divine. It’s probably a million miles from a proper saag aloo recipe but this is all about cooking and loving food and doing both of those things on a boat or in a caravan or anywhere else that may not have a super-dooper kitchen.

Or just because you’re on your own and it’s Friday night and you want something a little bit special but easy to cook whilst you watch Robert Downey Jr on the box. I’m with you Girlfriend.

So for a quick and very tasty Saag Aloo you will need
 
4 medium non-descript potatoes. Or 8-10 small new potatoes
800-900g (1 large bag) of fresh spinach
2 medium brown onions roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, sliced or roughly chopped
1 inch knob of fresh root ginger, grated
1 tbsp garam masala or curry powder or a bit of both…
2 tomatoes roughly chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 bunch of fresh coriander
Knob of butter
1 small pot of natural yoghurt


Method

  • The quickest way to make this is to boil the potatoes first. Don’t peel, just chop into bite-sized pieces and bung onto boil right up until they are almost cooked. They need to have some bite left in them so that when you add them to the pan for the saag aloo, they don’t turn to mush. Now you must save the potato water by draining the potatoes over a bowl or jug to collect at least 200 ml of the stock.

  • Whilst the spuds are doing their thing, heat up a nice heavy pan and add some olive oil and a knob of butter. When the butter has melted, add the roughly chopped onion. Cook over a medium heat until they are translucent, around 5 minutes or so. Then to the onions add the garlic and ginger and finely chop the stalks off of the fresh coriander (about a tbsp) and add that to the pan. Continue to saut√© over a medium heat.

  • Now add the chopped tomatoes. These give the dish that touch of acidity needed amongst the potato and spinach and round the finished dish off brilliantly.

  • Add the potatoes and turn the heat up a little to get a good bit of sizzle going. This is the perfect moment to add your spices. The heat will open up the aromas and accentuate that Indian flavour the Garam Masala provides in abundance. The colour looks good too. Season with salt and pepper and add the teaspoon of sugar. Feel free at this point to add fresh chilli’s if you’d like a little kick.

  • Now add the saved potato stock to the pan and bring to a gentle boil. Then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for ten minutes or so until the potatoes are cooked through and the dish has thickened a little.

  • I like to chop the washed spinach up a little before I tip that in. It will be a huge mound of leaves in your pan but it soon wilts down as you stir it in to the aromatic potatoes. Let this cook for about another 5 minutes. Check the seasoning, adding more salt if the spinach has diluted the flavour a bit.

  • It should be fairly ‘creamy’ by now and if you wish you can stir in the fresh yoghurt just before you serve or you can serve the yoghurt as an accompaniment. I also like to finish it off with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon and a sprinkling of lightly toasted flaked almonds and the chopped fresh coriander leaves.

See there, now that was pretty straight forward. But a taste sensation, believe me. In fact, if you are on your own-some forget the fork, just scoop the soothing, deep green Indian stew up with some fresh naan bread and lick your fingers without apology. Robert Downey Jr won’t mind at all.

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend too. I’m planning very little for tonight. A good fire and movie night I think.

I wonder who’s cooking.

Thanks for reading,

Cheers!

P.S I forgot to say; by all means use frozen spinach, about 400 g and halve the amount stock as the frozen spinach will add some of its own liquid but it is just as good.