Pumpkin and Spinach Curry
Pumpkin is an interesting variation on the more usual potato, although you could happily substitute the potatoes for pumpkin if you wanted to. Use any winter squash you can find -- I recommend butternut, kabocha and onion squashes, as they all have a richer, sweeter flavour and denser flesh than regular pumpkin. And look for small ones -- they tend to have a more intense flavour.
1 small pumpkin or squash, or half a large one
3 bunches of spinach or 2 packages (6 ounces each) fresh leaf spinach, washed thoroughly to remove grit, coarse stems discarded
3 tablespoons groundnut (peanut) oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
large pinch fenugreek seeds
2 fat cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 green chillies, sliced
1 teaspoon dhana jiru
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3 medium-size tomatoes, skinned and chopped
Peel the pumpkin and cut into 3/4-in cubes. Cut the spinach into 1 1/4-in wide ribbons.
Heat the oil in a wide pan and add the mustard and fenugreek seeds. As the seeds begin to sizzle, add the garlic and the chillies. Cook for 1 minute, then add the pumpkin cubes, the dhana jiru and turmeric and stir well.
Trickle 1/2 cup of water down the side of the pan, then cover and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stirring carefully, then cover the pan again and cook gently until the pumpkin is tender.
Add the spinach and stir gently to combine. Turn the heat to medium, cover again and cook until the spinach is wilted and bright green. Remove the lid and turn up the heat to reduce excess moisture -- a little liquid should remain to lubricate the curry. Serve immediately.
To make dhana jiru:
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Scatter the seeds on a baking tray (pan), then put the tray into the hot oven. Roast the spices for 5 minutes (use a timer if you're likely to forget). Remove the tray from the oven and allow the spices to cool completely. Grind to a fine powder in small batches using either a coffee grinder or spice mill.
This makes a nice side dish as part of a larger meal, or serve with chappatis, yoghurt and crunchy red onion slices for a light, tasty lunch.
For spinach and potato curry, follow the method above, replacing the pumpkin with the same weight of potatoes. To make a simple spinach curry, omit the pumpkin, double the quantity of spinach and increase the tomatoes to 4.