HomeFood & DrinkMeera Sodha’s recipe for vegan saag aloo

Meera Sodha’s recipe for vegan saag aloo

A tried-and-tested recipe for potato and spinach curry with added spiced aubergine

Irecently had the privilege of judging the Andre Simon Awards for the best food book of 2018, and 119 books turned up, box by box, at my door (thank you, postman). Although there are some mind-blowing new books among them – the winner Diana Henry’s included – I thought to myself: ‘How many recipes does one person need?’ Of course, I am charged with writing new recipes here every week, but so often I’ll find that my pitch-perfect meal is something simple that I grew up eating – which is what today’s recipe is: a classic saag aloo, with added aubergine for extra oomph.

Potato, aubergine and spinach curry

The only thing this recipe lacks is looks, but try not to hold that against it.

Prep 10 min
Cook 25 min
Serves 4

750g maris piper potatoes, peeled
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
1½ tsp cumin seeds 
1 tsp black mustard seeds 
1 aubergine, cut into 1cm dice
1 large brown onion, peeled and very finely chopped
2½cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped 
4 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric
1½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder 
1½ tsp ground coriander 
2 tbsp tomato puree 
400g baby spinach, washed

Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces roughly 3cm square, put these into a medium saucepan, add a teaspoon of salt and cover with plenty of cold water. Bring to a boil, cook until just tender – around eight to 10 minutes – then drain.

Meanwhile, pour the oil into a large, deep-sided frying pan for which you have a lid, and put over a medium heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds to the hot oil and watch carefully: when they start to sizzle, add the diced aubergine, onion and a teaspoon of salt.

Turn down the heat a little and cook until the onions and aubergines are soft enough to cut with a wooden spoon and starting to brown – about 10 minutes. Now stir in the ginger and garlic and, after a few more minutes, the turmeric, chilli powder and ground coriander. Mix in the tomato paste, turn the heat to low, cook for a further 10 minutes, then add the drained potatoes and stir gently so as not to crush them.

Add a big handful of spinach, stir, add a splash of water and cover with the lid – it will take a few minutes to wilt down. Repeat until all the spinach is wilted and soft. Add a couple of tablespoons of water, mix and cook for two to three minutes more, then take off the heat.

Serve with chapatis or naan, yoghurt and a little lime or lemon pickle on the side.

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