Mmmm, chana saag: a creamy, flavorful curry of chickpeas and spinach. This simplified version is a great go-to if you have unexpected company, because all the ingredients can be kept in your pantry. It’s a breeze to whip up, and the whole thing cooks in one pot. Huzzah for chana saag!
1 16oz package frozen spinach
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans garbanzo beans
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp salt
2 1/2 tsp cumin seed
3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup raw cashews (not roasted or salted)
1 cup water
1-2 cups rice, prepared per package instructions
Optional: Chopped onions • Roughly torn cilantro leaves • Papadum
Servings: This makes a big pot of food. It would be a suitable main course for 4-6 people, or will provide great leftovers for two people. It gets better the longer it sits. It will also hold up well in the freezer in pre-portioned servings.
Ginger: Every few months, I pre-chop a bunch of ginger and store it in a bag in the freezer. Then it’s done, and I can just grab some when I need it. It will keep its flavor well for several months — and if you still have some left after that, just add a little more to the recipe.
Rice: I like brown basmati, but you can use whatever you have available. You could also put the curry over something else, like noodles or steamed kale.
Papadum: Papadum is a delicious, crunchy lentil cracker. I like the version that has spicy black peppercorns, but there are many types. These can be found at Indian groceries, or else at some specialty markets. They last ages in the pantry, and you can cook them by sticking them in the microwave for a minute or so. Mmm papadum.
Cayenne: You can easily add more, less, or none at all, depending on how hot you want the dish to be.
Dump everything except the cashews, water, and rice into a big pot. I like using a dutch oven because it holds heat evenly, but any big pot will do.
Turn the heat to medium and cover. Uncover and stir occasionally, just to make sure nothing is burning on the bottom of the pot.
While that pot is warming up, add the cashews and water to a high-speed blender and blend until you get a thick cream. (If you have a Vitamix, this is the time to use it!)
Add the cream to the curry pot. Be sure to do this before the curry ingredients get too hot, because if you add the cream to a really hot pot, it will get clumpy.
Once that’s done, if you’re going to serve this with rice, you can start heating water separately and cook the rice to package instructions. I like it, but you can easily skip it.
Keep cooking the curry until it gets to a good temperature and consistency. It will get easier to stir everything together as the spinach thaws.
Once everything is ready, dish the rice and curry into bowls. Optional: top with cilantro and chopped onion as a garnish and serve with some papadum on the side. And eat!