India has the largest number of vegetarians in the world. We love our vegetables and even most non-vegetarians eat copious amount of vegetables at almost every meal. In fact, no traditional Indian meal would be complete without a few vegetarian dishes.
Potatoes with spinach is a classic Indian combination. Spinach is very healthy, nutritious and full of antioxidants. It’s also high in iron, vitamins A & C and even calcium. This recipe is also a great way to get some spinach into your children’s diet.
I recommend using fresh baby spinach leaves but frozen chopped spinach works equally well and is a great timesaver. I also prefer to use baby new potatoes for this dish. Either the baby red potatoes or the baby Yukon Gold potatoes will work fine, even a combination of the two varieties will work well. Depending upon their size, I just halve or quarter the potatoes. Needless to say, I don’t bother peeling them. Just give them a good scrub and you’re good to go, but by all means, feel free to peel the potatoes if you so wish.
ALOO PALAK (Potatoes & Spinach)
10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves, finely chopped (or frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained)
1 lb of baby potatoes
1 large onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
2-3 dried red Indian chilies
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp ground cumin powder
½ tsp ground coriander powder
½ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp red chili powder, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
juice of ½ lime
1-2 tbsp oil, vegetable of canola
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large pot of boiling salted water, boil the potatoes until fork tender. Remove, drain well in a colander and run under cold water. This will stop the cooking process and cool them quickly. When the potatoes have cooled, either halve or quarter them depending on their size. Of course, peeling them is completely optional. Set aside until needed.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, add about 1 tbsp of the oil. When hot, add the cumin seeds. They should sizzle in the hot oil, stir fry for just a minute or so and add the dried red chilies. Stir and add the onions, cook until they are translucent (around 5-6 minutes). Now add the ginger and garlic. Stir fry for a few more minutes and add the spices (turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, red chili powder, salt and pepper). If you need a little more oil, add it as needed. Let the spices cook for a few more minutes and then add the potatoes. Carefully toss the potatoes with the spices so that they are evenly coated. Now add the spinach and gently mix until the spinach has wilted. Finish with the lime juice. This is generally a dry dish, but feel free to add as much or as little water as you prefer. Mix well to combine all of the ingredients, reduce the heat to medium low and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Garnish and serve with fresh chapatis and fragrant Basmati rice.
Instead of using spinach, try this dish with fresh fenugreek leaves (methi). Potatoes with fenugreek leaves is also a delicious combination known as Aloo Methi.
You could also fry the potatoes instead of boiling them for a different taste. This step may require more oil, but add the freshly cut potatoes to the onion/spice mixture and let them brown as indicated in the recipe. After the potatoes have gotten a little color on them, reduce the heat to medium low. Add just a splash of water, cover and allow them to steam and cook inside until they are fork tender (around 10-12 minutes). Then remove the cover and add the spinach following the recipe given above.