Spinach Tomato Curry

One cannot be prouder than I am right now to present to you this wonderful bowl of curry. This is my very first attempt at a recipe completely by scratch, and it was a smashing success! Sure, I frequently work off of 2 or 3 (or 4 or 5) recipes to create a dish, and I am no stranger to the ‘just dump it in’ philosophy, but usually there is some method to the madness. I have also never been ambitious enough to tinker with curry spice blends. I have over cumined before, and it was not pretty. But as I was staring into the depths of my freezer, the squash, spinach, and curry leaves were beckoning. Why can’t you combine these elements? I say go for it! I added some tomatoes because I prefer tomato curries to coconut milk curries (and I don’t care what Tom Collicchio thinks: squash + tomatoes = greatness), and this dish was born.

A quick note about curry leaves: These were a find at the Asian supermarket, and I now want to grow a curry leaf plant. I have seen them described as the Indian ‘bay leaf’, but I think this is an unfair description. I have yet to figure out what value bay leaves add to a dish, although I faithfully put them in every time. Curry leaves are aromatic, slightly oily to the touch, and give a nice sizzle when added to the pan. And they don’t taste like wood when you accidently eat them!

The curry leaves and fenugreek add that extra something to the spice mix, which you may only notice if you use them. I’m sure, having been curry leaf and fenugreek-less for the majority of my cooking ‘career’ that this curry would be fantastic without.  It comes together quickly, and the dry-roast of the spices at the beginning is definitely worth it. To save time, you can use a block of frozen spinach instead of fresh – just add it into the stew when you add the tomatoes. This dish tastes just as good as it smells, and the leftovers are sure to disappear quickly!

Spinach Tomato Curry

2t. ground cumin
1t. ground coriander
0.5t. fenugreek
0.5t. turmeric
1t. garam masala

Other stuff:
1t. mustard seeds
1t. canola oil
0.75c. onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1T. fresh ginger, minced
4 curry leaves
2-4 jalapenos, diced
1 butternut squash, cut into 1″ cubes (~4.5c.)
1-2c. water
1 (28oz.) can diced tomatoes
4c. spinach, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

0) In saucepan, dry roast spices until fragrant. Set aside.
1) In same saucepan, saute mustard seeds in oil until they start popping (I find it helpful to use a lid otherwise mustard seeds go splattering everywhere)
2) Add onion, garlic, ginger, and curry leaves. Saute until onion is translucent.
3) Add chilis. Saute ~1min.
4) Add spices. Stir to prevent burning.
5) Add squash and water. Cover and bring to a boil.
6) Add tomatoes. Stir.
7) Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook ~20min, until squash tender. (Stir occasionally to prevent bottom-burn!)
8) Add spinach. Stir in and cook until wilted
9) Taste for seasonings.
Serve with rice.


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