If there's one thing I've learned about Indian curry with spinach, it's that I never seem to use enough spinach. Though a pound of the greens may sound insane, the leaves wilt down dramatically, eventually forming something of a sauce for the dish. Instead of little pieces of green here and there, it's in every bite.
That left me with time to focus on the sweet potatoes. Besides adding a nice pop of color, the sautéed orange cubes are soft and sweet. To counter their natural sweetness, I tossed in a whole mess of dried spices, including cumin seeds, cardamom, and cinnamon, along with some fresh garlic, ginger, and onion. But I also needed some spice. Instead of clobbering the palate with nothing but heat, I picked up a trick from Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries, and mixed paprika with cayenne pepper. There's a bite, but it never overwhelms.
Instead of a bland, one-note dish, this complex vegetarian curry has a multilayered profile and a genuine kick.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 medium white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 large sweet potato about (about 1 1/2 pounds) peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup water
- 1 pound spinach, ends trimmed, leaves rinsed, and roughly chopped
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add cumin seeds, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds. Stir in onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Add cayenne, paprika, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt, and stir until combined. Add sweet potatoes, and stir until they are evenly coated in the spice mixture. Add water, and stir to dislodge any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover skillet, and cook until sweet potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove cover from skillet and increase heat to medium. Stir frequently until sauce thickens. Some cubes will break down into the sauce. Add a handful of spinach leaves, and stir until wilted. Repeat process until all of the spinach is added.
Season with more salt if necessary. Serve with white rice.