December 13, 2007
Ever lose your cool over a bag of something spicy?
I’m talking about those little bags of whole and powdered masalas that add up to the wonder that is Indian cuisine.
Just when I think I couldn’t possibly buy another new spice, a recipe stumps me with the need for yet another obscure one. Like methi (fenugreek) seeds. Or anardana (pomegranate) seeds.
I proceed to dry roast and grind half a teaspoon. Knowing full well that the remaining 225 gm will languish in the kitchen cupboard.
The only moment I spare it a thought, or a curse, is when I swing open the cupboard door in a rush and the darned bag loses its balance and its contents spill all over me and the kitchen floor.
By the time I find another recipe that needs the wretched spice, it is so anemic that I might as well not bother.
Of course, this can only be worse if you live in a place where Indian spices are hard to come by and fairly anemic to begin with!
All hail the minimalist recipes. The ones that require no fancy ingredients and can be cooked when over-sized bags of fancy Indian spices are running in short supply.
This one is a real trooper – gosht aur palak, or pork with spinach.
A hearty, winter warmer, it is a one pot stew using a few staple masalas only. Give everything a good stir and pressure cook if you can for added speed.
A spicy treat that gaurantees a chilled out evening.
In a pressure cooker bas, bring the oil to heat over a high flame. When it is hot add, in order, the bay leaves, cumin, onion and garlic.
Fry for five minutes until the whole lot starts going caramel brown. Then add the tomato, chilli and turmeric powders and fry for two minutes until the tomato disintegrates.
Stir in the pork pieces and brown for a few minutes until it is white and sealed on all sides. Then add the spinach, the ginger, garam masala, half a pint of hot water and pressure cook for 20 minutes after the first whistle.
To finish, stir in salt and the butter. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with a fancy pulao. I made Asha’s coconut rice. Recipe to follow.
If you don’t want to use a pressure cooker, use a large pan, lower the heat when the spinach has gone in and cook on a medium heat for at least an hour until the pork is super tender.