Sunday, January 08, 2006

Spinach and Potato Curry

Recipe adapted from Sameen Rushdie's Indian Cookery. This works well with either fresh or frozen spinach. I have made it with kale as well; 10oz (275g) weighed without stalks.

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

1 1/2 lb (700g) potatoes
1lb (450g) fresh spinach (weighed without stalks) or frozen thawed
1 medium onion
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste, and depending on its heat!)
2 medium tomatoes


Scrub potatoes and boil them in their skins until almost, but not quite, done. Leave to cool, then cut into small cubes.

Meanwhile, if using fresh spinach or kale, remove the coarse stalks then rinse and cook gently for 10 minutes, in just the water clinging to the leaves in a covered pan. Cool and chop (reserve any remaining liquid). For frozen spinach, just defrost and chop.

Chop the onion finely, crush or finely chop the garlic and finely chop the tomatoes (keep them all separate). Measure the spices out into a little bowl.

Now brown the onion in a little vegetable stock or water until golden brown - about 10 minutes perhaps, topping up with hot water as necessary. Let it stick slightly from time to time to get that fried smell. Alternatively, brown in a little sunflower oil.

Add the ginger and garlic to the pan and stir for a moment. Add the spices, and a little more water if necessary. Cook for a few minutes, then add the tomato. Cook gently 3-5 minutes.

Add the potatoes and spinach, mix well then cover and simmer gently until ready, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking. It's done whenever the potatoes are cooked to your liking and the spices have permeated the vegetables.

Source :

Some facts about spinach...

In popular folklore, spinach is a rich source of iron. In reality, a 60 gram serving of boiled spinach contains around 1.9 mg of iron. A good many green vegetables contain less than 1 mg of iron for an equivalent serving. Hence spinach does contain a relatively high level of iron for a vegetable. However, in terms of its nutritional value (the amount of iron actually absorbed by the body) the benefits of spinach have been greatly overstated. In the first instance, this is because the body cannot absorb the non-haem iron from vegetables as efficiently as the haem-iron found in meats, particularly lean meats. The body's absorption of non-haem iron can nevertheless be improved by consuming foods that are rich in vitamin C and by consuming some meat along with a meal. However, more importantly, spinach contains high levels of oxalate. This oxalate binds to iron to form ferrous oxalate. As a consquence, the amount of iron that can be absorbed from spinach is negligible.

The myth about spinach and its high iron content may have first been propagated by Dr. E. von Wolf in 1870, because a misplaced decimal point in his publication led to a iron-content figure that was ten times too high. In 1937, German chemists reinvestigated this "miracle vegetable" and corrected the mistake. It was described by T.J. Hamblin in British Medical Journal, December 1981.

Spinach also has a high calcium content. Once again, this is of negligable nutritional benefit because the oxalate in spinach also binds with calcium. By way of comparison, the body can absorb about half of the calcium present in broccoli, yet only around 5% of the calcium in spinach. Another negative for spinach is that oxalate can contribute to gout.
Spinach does have some things going for it however. It is a rich source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and several vital antioxidants. Recently, opioid peptides called rubiscolins have also been found in spinach. It is a source of folic acid, and this vitamin was first purified from spinach. To benefit from the folate in spinach, it is better to steam it than to boil it. Boiling spinach for four minutes can halve the level of folate. The nutritional benefits of spinach were discussed in detail in the Skeptic magazine, (Winter 2005).

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