It’s allergy season. It’s also all the seasons every day. Everyday I spend part of the day freezing and part of the day sticky and hot….or I spend all day carrying around my entire wardrobe. It’s also the season of being overcommitted. I’m working every day from about 8am until 10pm for the next month. So, I’m not going to spend long writing, because I have no time. I’m only pausing to give you this recipe because it is so healthful and delicious and perfect for this time of year when the food you eat should be fortifying you against pollen, weird weather and lack of sleep.
This dish not at all difficult to make, but it does call for some unusual ingredients. You could probably skip the weird ingredients and it would still be good, but I will make a quick argument here for acquiring them, should you be wandering by an Indian grocery store and decide to pick them up!
Fenugreek Seeds-My mother tells me that Fenugreek seeds help to thin mucus. So these are a good thing to consume during allergy season. I cannot say that they are my favorite spice. If you can’t find them, the dish will still taste very good…it just won’t have the magical mother recommended allergy cure ingredient.Kasturi Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)- To me, these have the most delicious flavor and smell. If you are someone who loves the smell of Indian food this might be one of the hard to place scents that makes you salivate. Fenugreek leaves are suppose to be good for nursing mothers, so they must be full of good nutrients.
That said, I have made this dish without them and it’s still totally delicious. If you do decide to get some, you can also use them to make Sangeeta’s Butter Chicken, which is divine.
Amchur (Dried Mango Powder)- You really should get some of this. It’s cheap, it keeps forever, and you can sprinkle it on anything that could use the slightly sweet tang of mango. This is a culinary secret weapon. Also, if you have mango powder you can make your own Chaat Masala. I would not personally make this dish without it, but you could maybe get the same effect with lemon juice and a tiny pinch of sugar?
Chaat Masala- This is another culinary secret weapon that I highly recommend acquiring or making. I make mine in large batches and sprinkle it over roasted vegetables for a brainless and simple meal. You could use it to season meat as well. I suppose you could use regular garam masala here instead, but if you are going to the trouble to get or make that, why not just get or make chaat masala? Here is the recipe that I use…
- 1 Teaspoon cayenne
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons mango powder (amchur)
- 1/2 tsp salt
Mix it all up. This will make more than you need for this recipe, but trust me you will want to have extra. I suggest multiplying it by many and making a big jar. You can use it to make Aloo Chaat Style Home Fries or Butternut Chaat, or just sprinkle it on anything that you want to taste good.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds (optional)
- 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
- 1 Tablespoon whole black mustard seeds (yellow mustard seeds can work too)
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 inch knob of ginger, minced
- 2 green chiles, finely chopped (I use jalapeños but you could use smaller hotter chilis if you like)
- 2 onions halved and then thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 ten ounce boxes of frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 can chickpeas (drained)
- 2 cups yogurt
- 2 teaspoons chile flakes
- 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 handful dried fenugreek leaves (kasturi methi) (optional)
- 1 teaspoon amchur (sour mango powder) or some lemon juice and a pinch of sugar.
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chaat masala (or regular garam masala…but you should really get or make some chaat masala because it’s delicious)
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Add the fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds. Cook until the mustard seeds pop, about 2 to 3 minutes. Be sure not to let the fenugreek seeds burn as they get very bitter.
- Add the green chiles, garlic and ginger and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden.
- Add the onion and the salt and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes in the vegetable oil, until softened but not brown.
- Add the spinach, yogurt, chile flakes, turmeric and fenugreek leaves. I used to add the chickpeas at this point. But not I puree the mixture before adding the chickpeas as suggested by my dear friend (and excellent cook) Tony.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Then, reduce heat to low and cook the stew for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the amchur and the chaat masala. Puree it until smooth. Taste it and add more salt if needed and add the chickpeas.
MORE INDIAN FOOD…