Spinach with Ginger, Fennel and Black Cumin

Spinach with Ginger, Fennel and Black Cumin

For a recent Sunday evening meal, we picked up six beautiful bunches of spinach from Happy Boy Farms at the Grand Lake farmer's market. They cooked down into this beautiful side dish adapted from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe. 

This recipe calls for our single-origin wild mountain black cumin, a subtly savory spice that is foraged in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush. It adds a bright pop of flavor to every bite. I used a whole jalapeno (including the seeds and pith) and a teaspoon of our Kashmiri red pepper powder, making the dish a little on the spicier side. Our three-year-old declared it "too spicy," although she might have been biased against its undeniable vegetal appearance!

The Kashmiri chile adds a gorgeous pop of red to the pan that lingers in the aromatic liquid of this saag

Yes, I did make three pounds of spinach, because I whenever I make spinach, I always wish I'd made more. For some it makes sense to halve this recipe. If you do the full three pounds, you'll want to wilt the spinach in batches. I used my largest cast-iron skillet and it worked just fine. 

Serve with Chicken Korma, Bhopali Pilaf or naan and raita.  

Spinach with Ginger, Fennel and Black Cumin

Serves 4-6 as a side dish


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon single-origin wild mountain black cumin
2 medium onions, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into thin half-rings
1 piece fresh ginger (1 inch), peeled and cut into thin strips
3 pounds fresh spinach, washed and trimmed
1/2-1 whole fresh jalapeno, cut into thin rings
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red pepper powder


Heat oil and butter in your largest skillet or cast iron pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add fennel and black cumin seeds. Stir, and add onions and ginger. Stir-fry until onions turn a rich brown color, 7 to 9 minutes.

Add spinach in batches. Cover pan, and cook until spinach has wilted completely, adding more spinach as it wilts and stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. When spinach has wilted, reduce the heat to medium. Add chile and salt and stir. Cover pan, and cook for 25 minutes more.

Uncover skillet, and stir. Cook until there is hardly any liquid left in the bottom of the pan, about 5-10 minutes more. 

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