Spicy Stewed Potatoes & Spinach with Buttermilk (Aloo chaas)
This stewlike potato and spinach curry can be served as a side dish or as part of a vegetarian buffet. The touch of cream prevents the buttermilk from curdling when it's heated and helps balance the heat from the pungent chiles.
1 pound russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks2 dried red chiles, stemmed1 cup boiling water1/2 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro4 large cloves garlic, peeled3/4 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon canola oil1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk1 tablespoon whipping cream8 ounces baby spinach
Place potatoes in a medium bowl; cover with cold water to prevent browning. Place chiles in a small heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Set aside until they are reconstituted, about 15 minutes. Reserving the chile-soaking water, coarsely chop the chiles .Pile cilantro, garlic, salt and the chopped chiles in a mortar. Pound the ingredients to a pulpy mass with the pestle, using a spatula to contain the mixture in the center for a concentrated pounding. (Alternatively, mince the ingredients in a food processor.)Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spice paste and cook, stirring, until the garlic is honey-brown and the chiles are pungent, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the potatoes and add along with turmeric; cook, stirring to coat the potatoes with the yellow spice, about 30 seconds. Pour in the reserved chile-soaking water and scrape the pan to loosen any browned bits; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.Whisk buttermilk and cream in a small bowl.When the potatoes are tender, pile the spinach leaves over them, cover and cook until the spinach is wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk mixture.