Indian Spiced Buttermilk with Peas and Spinach

I know, the title of this recipe makes it sound disgusting. Frankly, my pictures don’t look so hot either. Spiced buttermilk? That thought you’re thinking right now – that was also my first thought when reading the recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking. But then my second and third thoughts went something like this – a) it’s Madhur Jaffrey, so it probably is good despite the nasty title, and b) who the heck cares if it sounds nasty? I’m going to make it anyway. So I did. And guess what? It’s pretty great.

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Now, after adding a cup of buttermilk to an acidic pot of tomatoes and spices, as you might expect, it curdled just a bit. But don’t be terrified! Think of it as cottage cheese. Still good. Also, when I looked up other spiced buttermilk recipes, the internet seems to be pointing me to a chilled drink. Ms. Jaffrey says to serve this soup-like concoction at room temperature over rice; therefore, I assume it is different than the spiced buttermilk that the rest of the internet is drinking.

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Indian Spiced Buttermilk with Peas and Spinach

adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 jalapeno (or other hot, green chile), seeds and ribs removed, cut into thin slices
1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tomato, peeled and seeded, chopped
1 cup buttermilk
1 large handful fresh spinach
1/2 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a small pot and sauté the garlic and jalapeno. After about a minute, add the cumin seeds, turmeric, and tomato. Stir around for about 30 seconds. Add a sprinkle of salt and then stir in 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the peas and spinach. Cook for 2 minutes, until peas are thawed. Add the buttermilk and pepper, plus any extra salt seasoning you may need. Serve with brown rice at room temperature.

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