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This recipe for saag aloo (spinach with potato) from Basil Spice serves 4 – 6. You can hear Yvonne’s guest, Abbas, as broadcast on Good Afternoon.Ingredients:
20 oz (550g) (2 packets) frozen leaf spinach
1/2 pint (275ml) plus 2 tablespoons water
4 oz (110g) onions, peeled
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
A pinch of ground asafœtida (optional)*
2 teaspoons whole black mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
18 oz (500g) potatoes, peeled and cut roughly
into 3/4 – 1inch (2-2.5cm) cubes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Bring 1/2 pint (275ml) water to boil in a saucepan.
Put in the frozen spinach, cover, and cook the spinach until it is just done.
Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water.
Press out most of the liquid in the leaves (you do not have to be too thorough) and then chop them coarsely.
Cut the onions into half lengthwise and then crosswise into very thin slices.
Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium flame.
When hot, put in the pinch of asafœtida and then, a second later the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to
pop (this just takes a few seconds), put in the onions and garlic.
Stir and fry for 2 minutes.
Put in the potatoes and cayenne. Stir and fry for a minute.
Now put in the spinach, salt and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to the boil. Cover tightly, turn heat to very low and cook gently for 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Stir a few times during the cooking period and make sure that there is always liquid in the pot.
It gives a subtle savoury flavour, full, smooth and with a wonderfully musky aroma as soon as a pinch is introduced to hot oil or butter. Although optional in sag aloo, it is recommended and will be a valuable addition to your spice collection. It is the dried and powdered resin from a tree. Once prized for its medicinal qualities, asafœtida uncooked has a pungent smell yet transforms into an excellent spice when a pinch — a pinch is enough — is added to hot oil or butter.
The speaker is Abbas, a manager from the team at Basil Spice. If you would like to see their menu, follow this link: