In praise of spinach- Goan Vindaloo

As a child who was subjected to over-cooked and watery spinach- with its strong irony taste vaguely reminiscent of bitter blood and in that state of damp socks- you can understand a prejudice. And, like other prejudice, it’s rather unjust.

Stir in to your vindaloo for a real boost of taste ©Timothy K Hamilton; Image Credit: Flickr
Spinach is a valuable vegetable which is in season for the whole year providing fresh flavour, vitamins and colour in a most neglected way. It is peculiar, I find, to note that Swiss Chard with its bright stems is becoming the vogue ingredient in such establishments desiring to be seen to be vogue. Seldom though does its even humbler cousin take centre stage which must be to our shame.

In this weather (i.e. the predicted forty hours of Siberian-esque snow) it would be sensible to make use of a vegetable which is still in the garden. One method and which will warm the body and soul must be to make a curry with it.

Goan Vindaloo
Dissect into twelfths two fair sized onions. Open a tin of chickpeas and wash in a sieve. In a large saucepan heat some butter until it froths. Butter is delicious, it gives the best flavour to fry with and a deeper, richer golden hue to the food unobtainable really with oil, and should be used for any of these recipes which require frying unless stated otherwise. Moreover the saturated animal fats increase serotonin production, so will make for happier as well as better fed.

As it does so, put in the onions and stir occasionally until they have lost their raw edge, and become generally translucent. At such point dollop in a large tablespoon of curry paste. There are many good brands available but I check on the label to see if sugar and salt are being deployed over necessarily to bulk out flavour.

Cook the paste out until the onions have taken on a orange glow, at such point put in the chickpeas and coat in the oils, turn the heat down low and pour in a glug of wine vinegar.

Sour and Hot is a combination well attested in Vindaloo, a real curry of Goa. The fumes will clear away any cold. Cover with water, stock or coconut milk (I find creamed coconut is a valuable store cupboard ingredient and a tablespoon would more than suffice in this dish), put the lid on loosely and let it simmer for fifteen minutes stirring occasionally to avoid it sticking.

It is done when the liquor is thicker and substantially reduced. Season with salt to taste. When this is achieved put in a very large handful of washed spinach and clamp the lid down allowing the vapour to wilt the leaves turn up the heat to full. This will be a matter of a minute. Stir in the wilted leaves and serve. Feasibly with rice, or an Indian bread, but the Chickpeas are starch enough for me.

Hopefully you might find here a new perspective on that poor, green thing and let it occasionally take centre-plate. For such little input from the cook, it returns so much in flavour and aesthetics. If you still find it has a bitter taste try adding a little lemon juice which can redeem many a kitchen flop. So let the frumpy spinach have a dance, it might shock you with its high kicks.

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