Simmered Cabbage and Spinach
Cabbage, when simmered in a sauce, never breaks down enough to thicken it. Therefore cabbage-based curries generally have thin sauces, unless thickening ingredients are added. Don't expect this curry to have much body, but do be prepared to be blown away by its full-bodied potent flavors.
1/4 cup raw peanuts
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
6 fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, stems removed, thinly sliced crosswise, seeds in
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 pound cabbage, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 pound fresh spinach leaves, well rinsed and coarsely chopped
juice of 1 medium-size lime
Pulse the peanuts in a food processor until they have the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the peanuts, ginger, and chiles, and stir-fry until the mixture has a light honey-brown color, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the mustard, coriander, cumin, salt, and turmeric, and stir once or twice to cook the spices, about 15 seconds.
Pile in the cabbage and stir to coat it with the aromatic spices. Add 1 cup water and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and braise the cabbage, stirring occasionally, until it is fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the spinach, cover the pan, and cook until it has wilted, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the lime juice, and serve.
If you have no raw peanuts on hand but do have the preroasted kind, use them by all means; just wait to add them along with the cabbage, so as not to burn them.
When you need to grind a few spices for a curry like this, there is no need to grind them individually. Put all the whole spices in a spice grinder and pulverize the mixture to a consistency like that of finely ground black pepper.