Behold the traditional creamy Bengali aloo saag pie. Made by countless generations of Bengalis before me and whole lines of master bakers before them, passed down from generation to generation…well,ok maybe not. But you know who really cares, as long as they taste good? And these are pretty amazing. These delicate spiced vegetarian pies have become my latest default midweek treat. Basically, I’ll make the curry and have it with rice the night before and use any leftovers, (which have had the chance to rest and develop overnight) into these moreish little morsels the next day. I’m not sure exactly what it is that makes them quite so delicious, I think it’s something to do with the contrast of bold spices encased in something fragile and delicate (which is why samosas work so well). Perfect for impromptu picnics or just for coaxing a bit of greenery into fussy little mouths.
- 2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 tbsp. garlic crushed, 1 tbsp. ginger grated
- 10 curry leaves
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 1/2 – 1 tsp.chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1-2 tsp. salt plus a pinch of sugar
- half a tin of tomatoes
- 200ml water/stock
- 1 or 2 finely sliced green chillies (maybe leave these out if you’re making for any little people)
- (optional) a walnut-sized lump of tamarind
- a couple of big handfuls of spinach leaves, finely shredded
- 4-5 tbsp. finely chopped coriander
- handful of frozen peas
- equal quantities of puff pastry and shortcrust pastry
- 1 tbsp. nigella seeds
- fry the onions and curry leaves with mustard seeds over a medium heat until the onions have taken on a brown tinge. Add the ginger, garlic and potatoes. Fry for about 15 minutes then add remaining spices and some salt.
- Add the tomatoes, 200ml water/stock a pinch of sugar, plus the tamarind and chillies if using. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and you’re left with a thick tomatoey gravy. Stir in the spinach leaves and peas. Add a dollop of creme fraiche if you’re feeling fancy, or natural yoghurt. Sprinkle over the coriander and immediately eat a bowlful with rice or chapattis.
- The next day, roll out the shortcrust pastry and line a muffin tin with circles. Bake blind for 15 minutes at 180C before filling with any leftover potato-spinach mixture (reheat with a splash of water and pad out with more vegetables, cooked lentils if necessary). Cover with circles of puff pastry which have been sprinkled with the nigella seeds, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 180C.