Original recipe from Mridula Baljekar’s The Complete Indian Cookbook which replicates the taste of UK Indian restaurant cooking like no other cookbook I’ve encountered. However, I suspect she would probably not recognise my version of her dish.
6 tbsps cooking oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
8-10 fenugreek seeds (optional but I always include them)
1 tbsp curry leaves (optional, at least in my version they are)
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped
2-4 dried chillies, coarsely chopped (or several pinches of chilli flakes, and then another one for luck)
450g fresh leaf spinach, or 225 frozen leaf spinach, finely chopped
1 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
1 large potato peeled and diced
1 large onion, finely sliced
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp garam masala
¼-½tsp chilli powder
2-3 ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped (or half of 400g tin chopped toms)
1 tsp salt or to taste<
Heat 2 tbsps oil and fry mustard seeds until they pop.
Add cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves (if used) and immediately follow with the garlic and red chillies. Allow garlic to turn slightly brown.
Add the spinach, stir and mix thoroughly. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Melt the ghee or butter over medium heat and brown the diced potatoes. Remove from heat and keep aside.
Heat the remaining oil over medium heat and fry onions until well browned (about 10 minutes). Avoid burning onions as burnt onions are bitter.
Adjust heat to minimum, add turmeric, cumin, garam masala, chilli powder, stir and fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add the spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, and salt, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
The above is the original recipe but it is pretty flexible and I have frequently abused it mightily, as comments in the ingredients list will already indicate.
In fact, I most often make it with a 225g pack of baby spinach leaves as that is generally what’s available at the supermarket, and I rarely get around to chopping them up. I have done the full whack of spinach but I find the recipe then tastes a bit slimy, so I suppose I’m really making potato and spinach bhaji. Either way, use a big pan. 225g spinach is a lot. I have a large saute pan that works really well for this.
I am also a lazy cook and the plongeur gets a bit fractious if I use too many pans so I have taken to cooking the onions first and then slinging in the diced potatoes with them. Seems to work. Also, if I'm using real tomatoes, I've stopped skinning them first. Life is short and I am hungry. Tastes good too if you added some chopped coriander at the end.
Leftovers are amazingly good with poached or scrambled eggs too.<
Also, protip for this recipe: chop the garlic before you start cooking, not when you suddenly realise you need it now and the mustard seeds are threatening to incinerate themselves.
I tend to be a bit generous with the chilli pepper flakes at the beginning so I have accidentally produced some quite incendiary versions of this. This I will say: if you do the 225g fresh spinach version and are generous with the pepper flakes, this dish will wake the dead and it is a stonkingly good flush-out for blocked nasal cavities when you have a cold.