Start to finish: 45 minutes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 dried red Thai or cayenne chilies, stems removed, coarsely chopped (do not remove the seeds)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup water
1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
1 large tomato, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped, fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 tablespoon firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
8 ounces fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they turn reddish- brown and smell nutty, 5 to 10 seconds. Immediately add the garlic and chilies. Saute until garlic is lightly browned and chilies blacken, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the turmeric, then carefully pour in the water. Stir to deglaze the pan, releasing any browned bits of garlic.
Add the potatoes, tomato, cilantro, brown sugar and salt. Stir once or twice, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fall-apart tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Add the spinach, a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring until wilted, 2 to 4 minutes per batch.
(Recipe from Raghavan Iyer's "660 Curries," Workman Publishing, 2008)