Warm and spicy Indian influenced spinach and courgette

Spicy spinach and courgette with home made hummus

How has the resolution to be more moderate gone? For the most part it’s gone well. I’ve been eating out much less, not indulging in any conspicuously over the top consumption and managed to reduce the days I drink and increase my vegetarian days. On the other hand portion control has suffered, as it always does in January.

This is the time of year when my nesting instincts kick in with a vengeance. All I really want to do is curl up on the sofa with something warm and comforting to stuff in my cake hole, and watch DVD box sets with Mrs GW and the cats. And for me that means meaty stews and curries, bangers and beans – you know what I’m talking about.

My secret weapon for when I need that warmth but don’t want to over indulge in meaty madness, can be found in the spice cupboard. At this time of year I don’t reach for the zingy, citrus tinged heat of SE Asia, I want something gentler. I want to be molly coddled, not enlivened. And so I’m heading to the gentler, more rounded nutty flavours of the sub-continent.

In particular I’m going for asfoedita, a pungent powder that seems to magnify and deepen the nutty cumin and slightly sharp mustard. Like fish sauce it’s a flavour that’s almost offensive on its own, but adds layers to the flavour of a finished dish. It’s particularly good in vegetable and potato based dishes, giving them a hefty dose of hearty umami-ness.

The grated courgette was an idea I got from a Brighton friend who also served it with spinach and chilli. What a fantastic combination! It adds bulk, heft and flavour to the dish. If you were to stir in some wild rice, cannellini beans or quinoa, you would have a filling main. By itself, it fulfils all your vegetable needs in a meal. And I can practically feel the vitamins seeping into my system. I ate it (on the sofa, in front of a DVD with Mrs GW and the cats) with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt, a pile of hummus and some pittas as a simple weekday supper.

Spiced spinach and courgette
Serves two as a decent side, add beans and it’ll be a light supper for two. Scales well.

Onion – finely sliced
Half tsp Cumin seeds
Half tsp – Mustard seeds
Asfoedita – a pinch
Half birds eye chilli – deseeded and finely sliced
Pepper – finely sliced
Courgette – grated
A bag of baby spinach – approx 250g
Half a lemon
Pepper and sea salt

Pour a tblsp or so of oil into a wide pan which has a lid. Fry the onion over a medium heat, add the asfoedita, cumin and mustard and stir. Turn the heat down to low and fry until the onion starts to colour. Add the pepper and chilli and fry gently for five minutes.

Chuck in the courgette and stir fry for three minutes or so. Stir in the spinach, squeeze over the lemon and put the lid on. When the spinach has totally wilted (it takes about five minutes) take the lid off and let the liquid gently bubble away. Squueze out the rest and server.

[EDIT - 09:26 08/02/2013]

Here’s a vine of most of the cooking process:

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