Spicy spinach with eggs and chickpeas

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The most usual combination of spices in Gujarati cooking is ground coriander and cumin seeds. This is my version of one of the simple but delicious dishes we enjoyed at Palitana before our climb up the holy mountain. It can be rustled up quickly and served with some heated chapatis or nan bread for a complete and healthy supper.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg spinach
  • 5-6 cm piece fresh root ginger
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 2 fresh red chillies
  • 50 g butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 400 g tin chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 medium free-range eggs
  • 2 rounded teaspoons mustard seeds
  • sea salt, black pepper

Method

Warm a large, fairly shallow serving dish (ideally round), in a low oven. Wash the spinach thoroughly and remove the stems. Peel the ginger and garlic and chop together finely. Cut the chillies open lengthways under running water, discard the seeds and stems, then finely slice crossways.

Bring a little water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the spinach, cover and cook for only a minute or two until just wilted, stirring a few times. Drain the spinach and press out any excess liquid, then chop fairly small.

Melt half of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the groundnut oil in a large, deep frying pan or a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic, chillies and ground spices, and stir around for a minute or two. Reduce the heat and add the chopped spinach, chickpeas, lemon juice and remaining butter. Stir around over the low heat for about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt, and a little pepper if the chilli doesn’t provide enough heat for you. Spread the mixture out evenly in the warmed serving dish.

Add another 2 tablespoons groundnut oil to the pan and fry the eggs, two at a time, over a fairly high heat, basting with the oil until the white is only just set. Using a slotted spatula, lift out the eggs and place them on the bed of spinach. Add the mustard seeds to the oil remaining in the pan, adding a spoonful more oil if there doesn’t appear to be enough. Heat until the seeds pop, then tip directly onto the eggs and spinach. Serve at once.

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