When Henry was working in India earlier this year, I interrogated him daily about his meals. “What did you have for lunch today? Keema? Rogan Josh? TELL ME!”
"I’m having pizza and sandwiches," he deadpanned.
My husband loves Indian food as much as I do, and as he regaled me with stories of dining on buttery murgh makhani and spicy seekh kabob in restaurants from Delhi to Agra, I seethed with envy. Yeah, he was stuck toiling away on the other side of the globe—but he was feasting on all the Northern Indian dishes I wanted to eat.
So a few weeks ago, as Henry readied himself for another trip to India (which was subsequently postponed—yay!), I decided to console myself with a big pot of saag gosht, lamb with spinach sauce.
Saag gosht is a well-loved dish in the greater Punjab region in Pakistan and Northern India—but it’s pretty popular in our house, too. In the fall, I love nothing more than tucking into a bowl of spicy, tender lamb stewed in a fragrant spinach sauce.
I use lamb neck pieces in my saag gosht because they’re cheap, and I like gnawing on bones. Of course, boneless lamb shoulder works great, too, especially if you’re worried about choking on bones. (But come on, people: live dangerously!)
I adapted this recipe from one of my favorites in Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Cooking. I simplified it a bit, but made sure to retain all the bold flavors. Some saag gosht recipes call for cooking the spinach until the sauce resembles the gray, murky swamps on Dagobah, but I prefer to keep my spinach bright green and perky. Like all stews, saag gosht tastes even better after it’s had a chance to mellow in the fridge for a couple of days. Plus, it freezes beautifully.
Serves 6 people
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 4 pounds of lamb necks, cut cross-wise into 2-inch pieces (or 2 pounds of boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1½ inch cubes)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand), divided
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ cup diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup full fat coconut milk
- 30 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
- 1½ tablespoons garam masala
- freshly ground black pepper
- juice from ½ lemon
Preheat oven to 300°F. In the meantime, heat the ghee in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.
Dry the lamb necks well with paper towels and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt (remember: not all kosher salts are the same, so if you’re using a different brand, salt accordingly!).
Sear the lamb in the shimmering fat in batches until browned on all sides, Make sure the lamb is in a single layer and not overcrowded.
Remove the browned lamb to a platter and decrease the heat to medium. Add the onions to the empty pan and sauté until translucent and soft (about 10 minutes).
While the onions are cooking, prepare the other ingredients.
When the onions are soft, add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, and turmeric and stir until fragrant.
Add the tomatoes…
…and coconut milk and cook until the sauce has thickened. Blend the sauce with a stick blender until smooth.
Nestle the browned lamb pieces in the sauce, and add enough boiling water to reach at least halfway up the meat (about 2 cups). Stir in 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and bring the contents to a boil.
Put the lid on the stew and place the pot in the oven for 2½ hours or until the meat is tender.
Transfer the pot from the oven to the stovetop. Stir in the defrosted spinach and garam masala.
Cook over medium heat until the spinach is tender.
Adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper, and add the lemon juice.
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