Indian summer: saag aloo deconstructed

deconstructed sag aloo

I may have given this a ridiculously pretentious name, but don’t let that put you off

One of the lovely things about this project has been the chance to dig through my cupboards for treasure. Okay, so the lovely bit has not been searching through the cupboards. In my house, that process goes something like this:

1) open cupboard with hopeful expression

2) emit low groan

3) peer into depths of cupboard

4) initiate cupboard tetris programme (the one where you slide everything around in the cupboard, before giving up and pulling everything out)

5) eventually reach whatever it was I was looking for

6) initiate cupboard tetris level 2 (the one where everything has to go back into the cupboard but there is only one possible way it can all fit in)

7) close cupboard, with force if necessary

8) resolve never to open cupboard again (or move)

Storage issues aside, it was a joy to use the Turkish bowl I bought in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. It took me back to the endless echoing halls, the scent of sumac layered over rose petals, the big brown eyes of the imploring market traders. The look of determination on Bonton’s face as she bargained like a pro. Then I dreamt up this dish and braved the cupboard once more to track down a pile of brightly coloured silks that whisper sunshine with every rustle. Curls bought me a blue taffeta back from Thailand – thanks honey.

Anyhoo, this dish is a summery take on one of my favourite curries. I served it as a starter at Challenge Night on Monday and am about to eat it for lunch (waste not, want not).

Serves: 6

For the potato cakes:

2 baking potatoes

1 sweet potato

1 red chilli, finely chopped

Half a red onion, finely chopped

1 inch ginger, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp mustard seeds

Half a tsp turmeric

4 spring onions, finely chopped

1 large handful coriander, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

A handful of spinach leaves per person (1 pack will serve six)

Oil for frying, salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing:

Half a red chilli, finely chopped

Half a ripe mango, finely chopped  (I’d advise a small yellow Pakistani mango, the big Brazilian beasts don’t pack quite the same punch)

1 tbsp mango juice

1 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

Prick the potatoes all over. If you have something in the oven already, pop the potatoes in to the oven to bake for an hour. If not, it’s far easier and more efficient to put them in the microwave. Depending on the size of the potatoes, 10-15 minutes should do it – be sure to turn them every couple of minutes.

While the potatoes cook, fry the red onion, chilli, garlic and ginger with the turmeric and mustard seeds until soft.

When the potatoes are done, skin and mash the flesh in a bowl with a fork. Stir in the cooked onions etc then toss in the spring onions, coriander and lime juice and stir well. Season, then roll into golf ball sized balls, flatten and fry for 4-5 minutes each side.

For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together and pour over the spinach.


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