"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Recipe in Lieu of Post (Dad's Spinach Curry)

I don't have much to write about at the moment. Poppy is much improved and it looks like she will fully recover from her bout with laminitis.

The weather has ben just awful, raining day and night. The river is at flood stage, though that doesn't affect us here. It's supposed to keep raining for another week or so, at least. Not entirely outside of normal for this time of year, but tiresome just the same.

I found the first egg of the year today. I haven't a clue who laid it, but as it was a normal-sized egg and not a pygmy egg, I assume it was an older hen instead of one of the pullets. I expect to be inundated with eggs soon, and I can't wait!

Since there's no news on the farm, I thought I'd share a family recipe. This recipe is one of my Dad's - his most famous and beloved, in fact. He learned it, he says, from some Pakistani students with whom she shared a dorm at the U of WA back in the sixties. Now, back in the sixties, there was a limited supply of traditional Pakistani spices and ingredients, and I can tell from Dad's recipe that the students were severely limited in their choices. However, I am going to give the recipe exactly as he made it when I was growing up, and, indeed, as he still makes it today.

Afterwards, I will give my own modern variation, which reflects the greater availability of international ingredients as well as my own biases for fresh and local products. Either way, it's pretty delicious. My Dad's original recipe might be well suited to cooking from your emergency pantry, whereas my improved recipe might be better suited to cooking from your garden. Both have applications!

Dad in Mexico, 2006

Dad's Spinach Curry

for six people:

2 pounds beef stew meat
canola or other vegetable oil, for sautéing
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp allspice, ground
1-2 tablespoons hot curry powder
1 large can diced tomatoes
2 large cans spinach
salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat oil and fry meat, stirring to brown on all sides. Add onion, garlic, and spices. Keep turning. When well browned, add canned vegetables and turn heat to medium low. Simmer for two to three hours, until meat is falling apart. Serve over white rice.

Aimee's Variation:

-2 pounds beef stew meat - from a local, grass fed operation, your neighbor if possible.
-canola or other vegetable oil (olive oil might be healthier, but it has a strong flavor and a low smoke point. For Indian food, neutral veggie oil is better)
- 2 yellow onions
- 3-5 cloves garlic (love the garlic)
- 3-5 fresh green chiles, either jalapeno or serrano, sliced
- 5-10 allspice berries, whole, along with 3-5 whole cloves, a small piece of whole cinnamon stick, a pinch whole cumin, and a big pinch black peppercorns. combine in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle and grind until fairly smooth
- 1/2 tablespoon tumeric powder
- 1 tblspn high quality fresh curry powder - like Madras but Kashmiri is good too (can be eliminated if needed. you have lots of other spices here. Add some dried red chiles)
-2 large cans diced tomatoes (home canned if you got them, or a full pound of vine ripe tomatoes, chopped, if it is the right time of year)
- 2-3 pounds fresh greens - spinach is nice, but also mustard, collards, kale, mizuna, beet greens, radish greens, dandelion, or chard. Tough greens like kale or collards should be blanched and squeezed dry, but soft greens can be left raw.

Heat oil and fry stew meat over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and spices and turn frequently until fragrant and browned (at least twenty minutes).
Add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes. Then add greens, handful by handful. As the greens cook down, you may need to add a few cups of water. Keep at a rapid simmer for a couple of hours, until meat is falling apart. Serve over rice - white or brown as your preference dictates. I also like whole wheat tortillas (or chapati - almost the same thing) and some chopped cilantro.


AnyEdge said...

I made it with Kale once. Don't listen to her people! It's awful. Seriously. Kale cannot be curried in this recipe. Frankly, I don't think Kale is food.

Aimee said...

collards are best

AnyEdge said...

No. Fresh spinach is best. I've never had collards, but I'm a conservative, and therefore side with tradition.

Aimee said...

Whose tradition?

If you mean family tradition then canned spinach is the one and only choice. If you mean actual Pakistani tradition, then I just so happen to know (because a blog follower from Bangladesh told me) that the word "saag" that you see on Indian menus means "greens" in general, not any one green in particular. I also know from my extensive cookbook collection (excuse me, but I do believe I might be justified in calling myself an "expert") that Northern Indians (and Pakistan is as northerly as India got, back in the days before partition) that collards is the English name for a particularly beloved Punjabi green. The Punjabi name I'd have to go look up in a book and I don't feel like it.

In any case, I believe in tweaking traditions to suit one's personal tastes, so fresh spinach for you is fine. I also like to use at least half fresh spinach, though what I actually use is dictated by what is
a) in my garden
b) on sale
c) available at the farmer's market
d)most palatable to my family
e) growing as a weed in my own yard

more or less in order. Plus I find that if you nuke it with enough spice, any green is edible.

AnyEdge said...

Tradition meaning, the vegetable I grew up with in there. Fresh is better than canned, for all things, for all time, and is thus immune from traditional proscriptions.