October 7, 2013

Saag Jhinga Curry

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Curries prepared with spinach (saag) come in so many delicious guises. Plump shrimp
(jhinga) play a starring role in this one. Saags made with cheese or chicken are wonderful, too. (Try: Saag Paneer Curry, Saag Murgh Curry.)

1 tbsp
(15 mL) dried methi
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each: ground coriander, cayenne powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground turmeric
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground nutmeg
medium bunches spinach (1-1/2 lb/750 g), stemmed, washed
2 tbsp (25 mL) ghee
1 large onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp (5 mL) puréed ginger root
2 large plum tomatoes (total 9 oz/255 g), chopped
1 tsp (5 mL) or more kosher salt
1/3 cup (75 mL) heavy cream (35%)
1 lb (500 g) large shrimp (31/35 count), peeled, deveined
3/4 to 1 cup (175 to 250 mL) plain yogurt
Kosher salt to taste

Masala: In small bowl, stir together ingredients.

Curry: In large pan, cook spinach (with water clinging to leaves), stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, or just until wilted. Drain, but do not press to remove more water. Let spinach sit in strainer until lukewarm. Chop.

In same pan, heat ghee on medium until shimmery. Add onion. Cook, stirring often, 4 minutes, or until golden. Stir in garlic and ginger. Stir in masala 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and 1 tsp (5 mL) salt. Stir in spinach. Cook, stirring often and scraping pan, 2 minutes, or until well combined. Add cream. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 5 minutes, or until thickened. Add shrimp. Simmer, covered, 3 to 5 minutes, until shrimp is opaque. (Do not overcook.)

Remove from heat. Stir in 3/4 cup (185 mL) yogurt. Adjust salt. If desired, add some or all of remaining yogurt to adjust creaminess.

Makes 4 servings.

  • I fool with tradition and stir in the yogurt at the end, as it curdles and offends the eye when simmered.
  • For vibrant flavour, Indians toast and grind spices just before using them.

Kitchen Secrets: Grating the onion using the large holes on a box grater is an Indian culinary trick. Be warned: It will make you cry. Finely chop the ends you can’t get at.

Shopping Cart: Drop into an Indian grocery store to get the methi and paneer (fresh cheese sold in blocks). Some supermarkets now sell paneer, too, which makes me happy.

M is for Methi: Leaves from the fenugreek plant are known as methi. They are sold fresh and dried. The former may be called methi greens. The latter have a smoky accent; they may be labelled qasuri methi.

G is for Ghee: Indian clarified butter is called ghee. Longer simmering leaves it nuttier and more golden than clarified butter. Many supermakets sell ghee. Sometimes, I make my own.