Thursday, March 15, 2007

March 12, 2007: Punjab spinach vegetable curry

Continuing our celebration of SBS's Hooray for Bollywood series, we settled in on Monday night with 'The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey' and this curry. Again, the inspiration came from Camellia Panjabi's '50 Great Curries of India', a book that is focussed predominantly on meaty curries. Luckily, the curry sauces all sound wonderful, and can easily be applied to vegetarian alternatives. The basis of tonight's curry was a lamb spinach curry, with a marinade and a spinachy sauce. We swapped lamb for vegies, mainly potato, with a few mushrooms and carrots for colour and variety. I think we went a bit overboard on the spuds, so the marinade and spices had too much work to do to spread their flavours fully around, leaving the whole thing a little blander than I'd like. Luckily we're well stocked with chutneys and pickles to liven things up - it would have been hard going to get through dinner and three lunches of slightly tasteless curry. I think we could probably go with something more suited to a marinade next time - tofu or seitan or something, and pay a little more attention to the sauce-to-solids ratio to ensure the flavour at the end justifies all the hard work.

Punjab spinach vegetable curry

3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups mushrooms, halved
2 carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic
2 green chillies
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
200ml yoghurt
2 teaspoons cumin
200g spinach leaves, washed
2 bay leaves
6 cardamom pods
2 cloves
2 medium onions, chopped
1 teaspoon coriander powder
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil

To make the marinade, puree the yoghurt, ginger, garlic and chillies in a food processor, along with one teaspoon of the cumin powder. Marinate the carrots, mushrooms and potatoes in this mixture for as long as possible - we gave it about an hour, but it could have done with longer.

The next step is to sort out the spinach - you'll need to wash your food processor in between these steps so you can puree the spinach into a liquidy mush. First of all, blanch the spinach for a few seconds in some boiling water and then drain it. Then zap in the food processor and you're ready to go.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Throw in the bay leaves, cardamom and cloves and fry for a minute or two. Add in the onions and fry for about 15 minutes, until they're nice and soft.

Add the corainder powder and the cumin powder and a splash of water. Stir everything together and cook for a few more minutes. Tip in the marinated vegetables and cook for about five minutes, until everything is well combined. Add in the tomato paste and the chopped tomatoes, along with a cup of hot water and the salt.

Simmer for as long as it takes for the potato to go nice and soft - about half an hour or so. Add in the spinach puree and stir everything together for a couple more minutes of cooking. When it's all done, serve it up on freshly fried roti bread with a few spoons of chilli and lime pickle and settle in for three hours of Bollywood entertainment.


  1. I'm going out for Indian tonight for an anniversary and you've put me in the mood.

  2. what a great night in! what did you think of the movie?

    The NVG has a Bollywood exhibit on at the moment that I found to be loads of fun!

  3. I love Indian food. There is a small place in Clayton that sells excellent Indian food. They also play Indian Bollywood-style music all the time. I feel like being in India when eating there. :D BTW, your spinach curry looks delicious!

  4. Kitchen Hand, I hope that your anniversary Indian was at least as good as this curry!

    Truffle, we both enjoyed the movie a lot - a real big-budget epic, even if its content is historically questionable. And we also checked out the NGV exhibition last weekend! I loved it, just disappointed that I couldn't pick up any posters at the gift shop. :-P

    Anh, I also like the fun atmosphere that Bollywood-style music and video clips give to an Indian restaurant. You could probably spot me by my shoulders, bopping in time as I eat. :-)

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  6. Anylee, you'll find substance but no beef in our curry. :-)