Sag gosht (lamb and spinach curry)

This is one of my favourite curries. I have a recipe on a bit of paper that I took down over the phone from a friend, but I have no idea where it’s originally from. Anyway, it deserves to be  more widely known. Rather than list the ingredients separately at the top, I am just bolding them when they’re first mentioned.

Just a picture of lamb spinach curry that I found on the Internet, not one that I made myself.

Just a random picture of some lamb spinach curry that I found on the Internet, not a photo or some that I made myself.

These quantities serve 6-8. But I’d recommend doubling the quantities, as it’s even more delicious when reheated the next day.

Heat some vegetable oil in a pan
When it’s hot, add 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
Add 6-7 whole cloves
Add 2 bay leaves
Add 6 cardamon pods
Stir these for  a while in the hot oil
Add one good-sized thinly sliced onion
Add 8 cloves of chopped garlic
Add 20 g of chopped root ginger
Cook all this together, stirring occasionally, until the onions brown. Ideally, you want to leave it unstirred every now and then, so that the bottom layer of onions just begins to char, but doesn’t actually burn.
Add 1 kg of cubed lamb, or other meat
Add 2 teaspoons of grond cumin
Add 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
Add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper; or if you don’t have it, a mix of paprika and ground black pepper, or whatever you have.
Add 2 teaspoons of  salt
Stir this together. Keep stirring as necessary through the next steps, to prevent sticking.
Add 5 big tablespoons of full-fat Greek yoghurt, one at a time. Quantities are vague, but adding too much is better than not adding enough.
Add 1 kg of spinach: frozen is fine (but defrost it first); tinned is fine, too. I’ve never tried it with fresh spinach, and I’m not keen to attempt the experiment.
Stir it all in together, and bring it up to heat
Cover the pan, and simmer gently for an hour

Why is this recipe so good? Because it’s so distinctive. Lots of curries taste great, but pretty similar to each other. This one doesn’t. It has a real quality to it.

7 responses to “Sag gosht (lamb and spinach curry)

  1. I think I’ll be trying this. With fresh spinach because I can get it cheaper than the frozen stuff :) I don’t see why it wouldn’t work — you can *slow-cook* spinach in curries and it works. (It might work better to add it closer to the end of the 1hr simmer, though, so I might tweak that too.)

    OK, I’m trying something *like* this. :)

    I might throw in a little garam masala as well, mostly for colour — most recipes for saag gosht seem to have it. (Maybe that’ll make it less distinctive, though!)

  2. Actually, the original recipe did have something ridiculous like half a teaspoon of garam masala added near the end. I find it hard to believe it makes much difference, so I’ve not bothered to source any garam masala.

    Fresh spinach: good luck, it might be sensational. My few experiments with cooking fresh spinach have been uniformly disastrous, so I have given up on it myself.

  3. Ah right. I thought it probably had garam masala. It really does make a difference — a whole teaspoon is enough to radically change a dish on its own. (The recipes I’m using as a merge/comparison basis with this one suggest 1/4 teaspoon). It’s not hard to source, any supermarket will have it.

    As for fresh spinach, yeah, that *is* hard to get from a lot of places, appallingly. Since I live on the fens we’re drowning in it. I can’t remember the last time I used the tinned or frozen stuff. :)

    I’m fairly surprised to learn that messing up spinach is possible. Overcooking it into a goop would probably do it, which is why I’m planning to put it in later.

  4. “[Garam masala is] not hard to source, any supermarket will have it.”

    … said a man who evidently does not live in Ruardean :-)

    Take it from me. The Lidl where we do nearly all our shopping doesn’t even have spinach. We have to make a special trip to the Co-op when we want an ingredient as exotic as that.

    On messing up spinach: it may be partly that it smells so vile while cooking.

  5. Trying a cut-down version (halved everything but the paprika in my merged recipe: had to throw some water in because with half as much spinach there wasn’t enough). First impressions: GREAT BIG YUM.

    (will stick up both the halved and non-halved versions of my variant of the recipe soonish, done in more conventional split style because that’s what latex’s recipe.cls likes.)

  6. Glad it worked well for you!

  7. Thank you very much. I liked this recipe a lot, as did my guests tonight.

    Your recipe reminds me of this (loosely persian) one:
    http://goodfood.uktv.co.uk/recipe/persian-spiced-pulled-lamb/

    It’s a great, somewhat festive winter dish for guests or family (we normally have it once a year between christmas and New Years Eve)

    BTW, I used fresh spinach for the sag gosht. It worked just fine, as far as I can tell after the first time. I didn’t even blanch the spinach, I just added it raw – not even cut. After an hour of cooking, the spinach leaves were mostly disintegrated. I’d guess that using fresh spinach makes no difference in consistency. It might add a layer of depth in the taste, but the effect is probably subtle at best.

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