The ingredient list for this recipe from Saveur is long, and the directions come dangerously close to the one-hour mark. But cut me a little slack. Like so many other Indian recipes, six of the ingredients are spices. Two of the remaining ingredients are onions and garlic, which should be lying around your kitchen anyways. Then it's just a smattering of aromatics and canned products that altogether make one of the best dishes I've cooked up recently.
The trick is to take it slow. The onions cook for 25 minutes over moderate heat until golden-browned and beautiful. The spinach, tomatoes, and chickpeas cook at a bare simmer (do not let boil) for 30 minutes so they can slowly soak up the flavors of the spices.
If you can judiciously chop four onions like a line chef, this should take you about an hour—but hey, most of the time is just waiting around. Meanwhile, the aroma of the spices waft around your apartment, making you and your neighbors swoon. In fact, by the end, the last thing you'll question is the number of ingredients. Mostly I was just struck by how such inexpensive ingredients could transform into such an incredibly fragrant and filling vegetarian feast.
- 2 1/2 pounds fresh spinach
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
- 7 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, with 1 cup of the cooking liquid
- Salt and pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 serrano, stemmed and minced
Melt the butter in a large pot set over medium heat. Pour in the oil and all about 2 tablespoons of the chopped onions. Cook for about 25 minutes, stirring often, until they are golden brown.
Meanwhile, Remove the stems from the spinach. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Toss in the spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander, and run cold water over it to cool it down. Squeeze out as much water as you can and roughly chop.
Add two inches of the ginger, all of the garlic, and 1/2 cup of water to a blender or food processor and puree. When onions are done, add them to the pot and cook for another 10 minutes.
Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, tomatoes, spinach, and chickpeas along with the liquid in the can. Stir well, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for thirty minutes. Add a bit more water if mixture becomes too dry.
While that's cooking, mince the reserved two tablespoons of the onions, the remaining inch of ginger, and the serrano chili. Add to a bowl and pour in the lemon juice. Stir well.
When the spinach chickpea mixture is done, stir in the onion and ginger mixture, season with salt and pepper, and serve.