With the unlikely scenario of a sunny weekend - not hot necessarily (obviously) but proper full on sun with attendant clear blue skies I really fancied something spicy for dinner Saturday night. My friend David was coming to join us and I was really looking forward to seeing him. He loves to eat so I wanted make something special. I'd had to cancel last time we were meeting when I was making ginger cheesecake so I figured I could do another of those very easily, dessert sorted. And it fitted the spiced theme.
For main course I settled on spiced roast chicken from Christine Manfield's book, Spice which I've made a few times and always enjoyed. You marinate the bird for a few hours before cooking so it's a good dinner party dish - you're half way there by lunch time and all you need to do later is put it into a hot oven. Sorted.
To accompany my pretty golden fowl - flesh tinted with the aromatic mix of saffron and turmeric roasted on a bed of matching golden sliced onions - I definitely planned steamed rice. For vegetables I decided salady things rather than addititonal hot things as a nod to the notion of sunshine. As I have done often in the last 20 odd years I turned to Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook - a book I have used as a reference continuously for all that time. It was, in fact, the very first cookbook I bought in London, having owned and loved a version in Sydney before that. Solomon is a Sri Lankan woman who moved to Australia in the late 1950's and in essence altered the way Australians ate. Her books are full of interesting stories and titbits to go with recipes that are always accurate in their measurements and balance of flavours and textures. They are a joy to use.
This spinach and yoghurt mix is very easy and quick and without doubt transcends the sum of its parts. If you don't finish it all in one meal it will eat well again next day, best though if brought back to room temperature as it is a little stiff straight from the fridge.
Spinach with Yoghurt & Spices
1 tbspn ghee or oil
1 tspn black mustard seeds
1 tspn cummin seeds
1 tspn ground cummin
1/2 tspn nigella or fenugreek seeds
1 cup yoghurt
Wash spinach well and remove tough stems. Pull the leaves into pieces and put into a saucepan with just the moisture on the leaves. Cover with a lid and steam over low heat till spinach wilts - just a couple of minutes. Drain, squeeze out as much water as you can, and chop finely.
Heat ghee or oil in a small pan and fry the mustard seeds till they start to pop. Add cummin seds, ground cummin and fenugreek or nigella seeds and continue to fry, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the seeds are fragrant, but do not allow to burn. Remove from heat, stir in chilli and salt and allow to cool. Mix the spices into the yoghurt then stir this mixture into the chopped spinach.
Serve at room temperature with rice and curries as an accompaniment.