Spinach and coconut milk are partners made in heaven – the creaminess of coconut plays off the mild bitterness of spinach beautifully. With a bowl of plain rice on the side, spinach in spiced coconut milk makes for an immensely satisfying meal.
This dish is inspired by a recipe by chef Gautam Maharishi on the Food Food channel. The original called for fried plantain and used deep-fried spinach as garnishing. I prefer skipping the plantain altogether, and used sautéed spinach as the primary ingredient.
- Spinach – 150 grams
- Salt – to taste
- Coconut milk – 1 cup light* + 1/2 cup thick
- Shallots (sambar onions) – 10
- Garlic – 6 cloves
- Pepper corns – 6
- Green chilies – 1 (more if you like it hotter)
- Oil – 2 teaspoons (for the spiced coconut milk) + 1 teaspoon (for the spinach)
*I used homemade coconut milk using fresh coconut: 1/2 cup thick from the first extract, 1 cup light from the second and third extracts.
If you are using store-bought coconut milk, which is usually thick, dilute it with water to get 1 cup light coconut milk. The dish does taste better with homemade coconut milk, though.
How To Make Spinach in Spiced Coconut Milk:
1. Prepare spiced coconut milk
Slit green chili vertically. Peel shallots and garlic.
Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan. Add whole pepper corns, slit green chilies, and garlic. When the garlic turns golden, add sambar onions.
Cook till the onions get fried lightly. Keep turning them around in the pan for cooking them evenly.
Add a cup of light coconut milk. On low heat, stirring regularly, bring to a gentle boil. Turn off the heat for five minutes to let the curry cool a little. Then add half a cup of thick coconut milk to the pan. Warm it up gently, stirring regularly, and turn off the heat before it reaches boiling point.
Fresh thick coconut milk can curdle if boiled or left unattended on heat. To prevent curdling, (1) simmer on low heat (2) do not cover the pan (3) keep stirring.
2. Sautée the spinach
[This can be done in parallel while the spiced coconut milk is cooking.]
Pluck the leaves off the spinach, discard the thick stem/root if any. Wash the spinach leaves well in several changes of water, till thoroughly clean. Pat dry.
Chop the spinach roughly.
In a separate wide pan, heat a few drops of oil. Add chopped spinach and a pinch of salt. Cook on high heat, stirring regularly, till the spinach wilts and the water evaporates.
Turn the heat to low next and let the spinach dry up (another 3-4 minutes).
3. Assemble it
In individual bowls, ladle out spiced coconut milk. Place a mound of sautéed spinach over spiced coconut milk.
Sautéed spinach with spiced coconut milk is ready to serve. Tip: this curry tastes great with plain rice.
Looking for more coconut milk recipes? Try a dessert: sabudana coconut milk pudding with mangoes.