Madhur's Spinach with Ginger, Fennel, and Black Cumin

To intensify the simple seasonings, Martha's friend Madhur Jaffrey first fries the fennel and cumin seeds in oil -- a method known as "tarka," which coaxes more flavor out of the spices by heating them. The spicy spinach is delicious with chicken, lamb, beef, or rice.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 1998


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black cumin seeds
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and cut crosswise into thin half-rings
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (1 inch), peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 3 pounds fresh spinach, washed and trimmed
  • 1 fresh, long, hot, green chile or 1/3 jalapeno, cut into thin rings
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Heat oil and butter in a large saute pan 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, 5 to 7 minutes.

  2. Add spinach. Cover pan, and cook until spinach has wilted completely, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. When spinach has wilted, reduce the heat to medium. Add chile, salt, and cayenne pepper, and stir. Cover pan, and cook for 25 minutes more.

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


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