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Menus and Memories from Punjab
by Veronica Sidhu

Aloo Paalak
Fresh fenugreek leaves add a subtle but aromatic and slightly bitter flavor to mild spinach. You can find cubes of frozen fenugreek leaves in the Indian market with about five or six cubes per bag. It is a convenient way to add flavor and nutrition to curries. fenugreek is said to not only moderate blood sugar, but also to increase mother's milk.   (vegan)
Yield: 8 servings


    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2-inch piece ginger
    • 1½ teaspoons ground turmeric, divided
    • 1 teaspoon whole or ground cumin seeds
    • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander seeds
    • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds (optional)
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala, divided
    • 1 chile pepper, seeded and chopped
    • 1 tomato, chopped
    • 1 large bunch fresh fenugreek leaves (methi), or 1 (2-inch) frozen cube, thawed (optional)
    • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
    • Canola oil for frying potatoes (optional)
    • 1½ teaspoons salt
    • Ground black pepper to taste
    • 1½ pounds fresh spinach, chopped, or 2 (20 ounce) bags frozen chopped spinach, thawed and lightly squeezed


Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and saute the onions, garlic, and ginger until transparent. Add 1 teaspoon of the turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, and half the garam masala. Saute, stirring, until onions start to brown. Add the chile pepper and tomato and saute for another minute. Set aside.

Rinse the fenugreek thoroughly. Save the leaves and discard the stems. Grind leaves in batches in a food processor (with a little water if you have to). Add the fenugreek to the onion tardka and saute over high heat for a minute. Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, dry the potatoes with paper towels. Toss with the1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala. Heat enough oil in a wok or pot and fry the potatoes in one or two batches. Remove them when they are brown and drain on paper towels. (Or cook the wedges in the microwave on high for about five minutes.) Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add the spinach and the rest of the salt to the onion mixture. Turn up the heat and saute, stirring, for about 3 minutes. The dish may be set aside at this point.

Ten minutes before serving, stir in the potatoes and warm over low heat.



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