It's almost midnight and this post is determined to be up tomorrow morning. It's also Thanksgiving break this week and I am pretty excited to have some time off with minimum homework! We only have two more weeks of classes left but let's face it, preparing for final exams is stressful so the excitement doesn't kick in until that last exam is over. I don't really have anything exciting to report on lately. School is my full-time life right now and even though it keeps me extremely busy, it's pretty routine. So let's talk about my latest food love: Indian food!
This past summer we headed down to good old Texas for a few weeks and my husband took me out to dinner at an Indian restaurant (a first for me!) and I was head over heals in love before we were halfway through the meal. It's not just that the food was delicious, full of satisfying flavors and packed with aromatic spices to no end. This place was authentic and it didn't take much to know that. The naan was freshly made, charred perfectly, soft, yet chewy, and thin, yet sturdy enough to hold it's own under the weight of the fillings. The curries were steaming hot and deeply flavorful, even the rice was notable (why do other restaurants put peas and carrots into theirs? weird.) The papadam was light and crispy, unlike any that I've tried thus far. We finished our meal with samplings of desserts that included my favorite badamee kheer, also known as rice pudding. That night we experienced the best Indian food I've ever had. We took a chance and walked into what most would describe as a "hole-in-the-wall"; it was the best decision we've ever made when eating out.
Since that fateful, Sunday night, we've taken every opportunity to visit different Indian restaurants within our areas of travel and have been surprised at the some of the experiences. Not all of them serve what I would consider authentic Indian food, many have become Americanized. If you are ever in Lubbock, Texas, here is the link to the restaurant I so highly recommend.
Since my experience with Indian food, I have begun to cook numerous dishes at home. Trying out specific dishes at restaurants or elsewhere really makes a big difference in cooking. I mention this because awhile back I had posted a delicious recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala and while I enjoyed it at the time, I moved onto other recipes pretty quickly and it was left behind. Nowadays, not only do I make that recipe but I am sharing another favorite as well.
I like variety in my food in a meal. I do not like eating the main or similar component of a dish in more than one way. An example would be if chicken was served in both the soup and main course or if meat in general was in more than one dish. So in-between such mental analyzations while staring at the menu, I fell in love with Saag Aloo and decided to try making it myself. After doing some research to get an idea of how the dish comes together, I found that the methods and ingredients varied. One used an Insta-Pot (don't have one), a few called for pureeing everything but the potatoes (I wanted texture), others had more potatoes than spinach, while some didn't even use Indian spices (that's not saag aloo in my book). Well, the dish isn't complicated at all and it didn't take long before I had what I wanted (happened on the first try, really). Tangy, spicy, and flavorful, it has everything I love about Indian food. The "touch" of cream is not traditional but it pays homage to the version I had in Texas.
Spinach & Potato Curry (Saag Aloo)
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
- 1 serrano chili, deseeded and minced
- 1" fresh ginger root, minced
- 6 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp curry blend seasoning
- 1 lb fresh tomatoes, roughly pureed OR
- 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 16 oz fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 large russet potato, cut into small (1/4" to 1/2") cubes
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- fresh ground black pepper
- Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet until simmering.
- Add chopped onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add in minced chili, ginger, and garlic. Stir and saute for about a minute until aromatic.
- Add the spices: coriander, turmeric, garam masala, cumin and curry blend to the onion mixture and stir until spice bloom and are aromatic.
- Add pureed tomatoes (do not use tomato sauce, it lends a cooked tomato taste to the dish that is not wanted) and bring to a simmer.
- Add chopped spinach to skillet in four separate batches allowing it to cook and wilt before adding more.
- Add in cubed potato along with the salt. You can add a couple tablespoons of water at this point if the mixture looks too dry for steaming the potatoes.
- Cover skillet with a lid and cook for 20-30 minutes on a low heat until potatoes are fork tender.
- Once potatoes have cooked, add in cream and bring to a simmer before transferring the curry off the heat. Season with fresh ground black pepper and additional salt if necessary.