Many years ago, when I was studying photography and not yet living in India but traveling there regularly, I spent some time in a tiny village in Madhya Pradesh. I had met a group of Naga Sadhus at a small Kumbh Mela and they had invited me to their ashram. I was not really sure what to expect, but the nosy photography student in me wouldn’t want to miss the chance.
The ashram was a little temple with an adjacent house, a pond and a few fields. The sadhus spent most of their day sitting around, bathing in the pond or smoking marihuana. Only from time to time things got interrupted by some religious ceremonies or a villager came with some request. But the ashram was always spotless clean and the sadhus were almost never sleeping. Whenever I went to pee in the night they would still sit at their spot.
When it was time for lunch they would head to the fields and see what was ready to harvest. One of the most common lunches at that time was little potatoes with spinach and a fresh coriander lemon chutney. It was a very simple meal with only a few spices, but it nevertheless took its own time to be ready – the vegetables had to be harvested and cleaned, the small potatoes peeled meticulously and the chutney hand ground on a grindstone. But the long wait was all worth it – only on a few other occasions in my life did I eat such fresh, simple and good food!
I’ve recreated this dish now after many years and although the atmosphere is missing a bit – the crispy potatoes, lightly spiced spinach and fresh coriander lemon chutney of the sadhus are a fantastic meal no matter where you live!
Potatoes & Spinach with Coriander Lemon Chutney
Enough for 2 people
- 500 gram potatoes (ideally small ones)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3 tablespoons ghee or oil
- 500 gram fresh spinach
- 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
Coriander lemon chutney
- 1 bunch fresh coriander
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- a bit jogurth
- some jaggery & 2 green chillies (optional)
Boil the potatoes in a pot with generously salted water. Drain the water, let the potatoes cool a bit and peel them. Rub them with the turmeric powder and add the ghee or oil to a pan and heat on high heat. Fry the potatoes till they are nicely crunchy.
Coriander Lemon Chutney
Clean he coriander and roughly chop it. Puree it together with the lemon juice in blender. If the mixture is to dry add a bit more lemon juice. Add salt per taste.
Clean and wash the spinach and remove any hard stems. Heat a pan on medium heat and add the ghee or oil. Once the ghee is hot add the mustard seeds and stir shortly till they pop. Then add the spinach and cook for a few minutes till it's soft and majority of the water has evaporated. Add salt per taste.
Serve everything together with a bowl of jogurth. You can also add a piece of jaggery and a green chilli to nibble on during the meal.