For some reason when I cook with spices I seem to become brave. I throw all caution to the wind and throw anything and everything in to what I’m making with the thinking: how bad can it be? This bravery leads to much more experimenting with flavours and heat. Another reason I like cooking with spices is because when the meal is finished, it can be personalised to your taste. The other day I made a sort of sag aloo recipe as follows:
Peel and chop some potatoes and boil in salted water until cooked. Chop a garlic clove and fry gently in some oil before adding as much spinach as you like and stirring until it wilts down. Remove the spinach from the pan into a bowl. Add your spice mix (see below) and fry in the same pan adding more oil if necessary. Chop an onion and add to the pan. While the onion softens, squeeze out the excess water from the spinach and then finely chop. Add the potatoes to the onion and fry until it’s all covered in spices and then add the spinach.
I added to my spice mix unknown amounts of the following; mustard seeds, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, caraway, salt and pepper. Add whatever you like! The next bit is the best bit of this kind of cooking; the chilli. I love the flavour of fresh chillies but sometimes the heat can be a bit too harsh. I removed the seeds from a fat green chilli and chopped it before adding it to the pan after the spinach. I didn’t want it to over cook and lose its freshness.
I removed half of the dish from the pan and then added another chilli, this time with seeds for those who like it hotter. Doing it this way means everyone is happy and they’ve got their own personalised meal. In January, there’s nothing like a bit of chilli to cheer your mouth up.