- Rohan Kamicheril
Spiced Spinach Galette
One of the many unexpected delights of cooking Indian food is the chance to incorporate dishes, almost in their entirety, into more familiar staples. This galette is one of my favorite examples. In essence it’s just a pie crust with some wilted greens bound together with a little egg. But in place of the regular greens, I use an Indian-spiced mixture of spinach, ginger, garlic, herbs, and spices. The addition of just a few warm spices and some dill gives this dish incredible character. And the inclusion of ajwain to the pie crust is one I really love. The little seed-like fruit have a wonderful savory aroma when baked that make the smells of baking coming from the oven twice as tempting as normal.
A note on spinach: Though this is common sense, it is woefully easy to forget to properly wash your spinach. So take especial care to wash your spinach very diligently to make sure that there is absolutely no grit in it. Even the slightest bit of sand in an otherwise beautiful galette will make the whole thing quite inedible.
1 medium red onion, peeled, trimmed, and thinly sliced from root end to tip
1 tsp garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tsp ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 tsp garam masala
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 large bunches spinach, well washed and trimmed but not thoroughly dried
¼ cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
¼ cup sour cream or yoghurt
Ghee for cooking
Salt to taste
8 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 cup cold, all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/3 cup ice cold water
½ tsp fine kosher salt
¾ tsp ajwain (carom seed)
Place a large, heavy-bottomed pan over a medium-high flame and add 3 tbsp of ghee to it.
When the ghee just begins to shimmer (do not let it smoke), add the onions all at once, along with ½ tsp of salt.
Stir the onions frequently, until they turn soft and begin to redden slightly but before they begin to caramelize and stick to the pan.
Add the minced ginger and garlic and stir vigorously, making sure to scrape the cooked garlic and ginger off the bottom of the pan as it sticks. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the aroma of the ginger and garlic loses its pungency and turns toasty and sweet.
Add the cayenne and garam masala and cook for 3-4 minutes longer, making sure that the spices do not scorch. If the contents of the pan begin to stick too adamantly to the pan, turn the heat down and add upto a couple of tablespoons of water to loosen the fond at the bottom of the pan. Cook until the garam masala is fragrant and toasted.
Next, add the spinach all at once along with the chopped dill and a generous pinch of salt. Make sure that there is still a little water clinging to the spinach. Give the pan one stir to make sure that some of the water reaches the bottom of the pan. Then cover and let cook for five minutes.
After five minutes, uncover the pan. The greens will have wilted. Using a wooden spoon, mix them well to bring the greens from the top to the bottom and vice versa.
Add the sour cream or yogurt, mix, and leave the greens to cook, uncovered, for 10-15 more minutes.
The greens are done when they are glossy and significantly reduced and there is no more than a thick glaze of liquid left on them. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt, garam masala, and cayenne as needed.
Empty the greens into a medium bowl and leave to cool while you work on your crust.
For the crust
In another medium bowl, add the cold flour, cubes of butter, ajwain, and salt.
Toss the butter in the flour to make sure all the cubes are well coated.
Working quickly, and using just the tips of your fingers, pinch the cubes of butter to break them up into smaller pieces. Continue, until the butter is broken down to pea-sized pieces.
Slowly add most of the ice water to the flour-butter mixture, mixing the dough with your other hand as you do. You want to make sure that the water gets evenly incorporated, or you’ll end up with a slurry that you’ll have to work hard to incorporate into the rest of your dough.
If the dough is holding together, then quickly and gently knead it till it forms a coherent mass—no more than five or six times should do the trick. If it isn’t coming together yet, then add more ice water and then knead until it does. The dough may be slightly shaggy, but should not at all be wet.
Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge. This cools the butter in the dough, to make for easier rolling, allows the gluten in the dough to relax (also, for easier rolling), and allows the flour to fully absorb the water in the dough.
Preheat an oven to 375F with a rack in the center.
Keep a baking sheet or medium (10-12”) cast-iron pan handy.
Take the dough out of the fridge and leave at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. The dough should not be too soft.
Beat the three eggs together till thoroughly mixed. Reserve ¼ cup of the egg and pour the rest into the spinach mixture. Mix well till combined.
Using a heavy rolling pin, roll the dough out on a well-floured counter into a roughly circular shape about ¼” in thickness.
Use a pastry brush to remove any extra flour from the dough and transfer to the baking sheet or cast-iron skillet.
Place the cooled spinach filling in the center of the rolled-out dough. Using the back of a spoon, spread the filling out to within 1 ½ inches of the border.
Pick up the edges of the dough and fold over the filling, crimping it decoratively as you go.
Chill the galette for 10 minutes in the refrigerator.
Before placing in the oven, brush the exposed crust with the remaining beaten egg.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown.
Let cool for 15 minutes, then slice and serve with a dollop of crème fraîche.