|Potato Curry with Spinach|
Mar 14th, 2006
I'm having trouble using the spinach that I've been getting in my vegetable box. I've been pulling slimy green bundles out of the back of my fridge for the past month or two. So when I did my menu planning this weekend, I went looking for something tasty that would use up a large bunch of spinach.
I had picked up a vegetarian Indian cookbook at Goodwill earlier in the day and so I thought of an Indian curry. None of the recipes in that cookbook were exactly right, so I turned to my copy of Crossroads Cooking by Elisabeth Rozin, a book I really enjoyed reading but haven't cooked from since I bought my own copy.
This is an interesting book that slips a little food history in with the recipes. Rozin defines crossroads cooking as recipes and techniques from one area that were altered due to the movement of peoples around the globe. For example, the cuisine of Israel is influenced by the cuisines of Alsace, Poland, Morocco, and Italy - all places Jews settled during the Diaspora. The author differentiates this evolution from fusion cuisine, which is the self-concious melding of ingredients to create something new. Crossroads cuisine is more the story of home cooking adapting to new ingredients, like African slaves in the American South.
The book has 3 or 4 chapters a piece on each of the following areas: Africa, Asia, The Middle East, Europe, and The Americas. The author is a cookbook writer, not just a food historian, so the recipes are simple to follow and intriguing. Although I've talked most about the history text, recipes make up the bulk of the book.
I ended up finding just what I wanted - not from India though but from Burma. This curry recipe is very much like an Indian curry, but with the addition of a bit of fish sauce and sesame oil. You can definitely see the crossroads influence in this dish. It tastes just fabulous, and the leftovers tasted even better with some chickpeas stirred in for lunch today. This is definitely a book worth checking out.
Potato Curry with Spinach2 tbsp peanut oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp finely minced gingerroot
1/2 tsp crushed dried hot pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
2 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 lb fresh spinach, trimmed, washed, and coarsely chopped or 1 box (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
Heat the peanut oil in a skillet or heavy pot and saute the onion, garlic, gingerroot, and hot pepper over moderate heat, stirring, until the onion wilts and the mixture becomes aromatic.
Add the cumin, coriander, and turmeric and stir for a minute or two.
Add the potatoes, tomatoes, fish sauce, and spinach. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring from time to time, for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the mixture is thick.
Stir in the sesame oil. Taste for salt. Serve hot, with rice.
-Elisabeth Rozin, Crossroads Cooking