Tomato-Spinach Simmer Sauce

Inspired by the Chicken Curry recipe in The River Cottage Family Cookbook. A food processor can be used to dice the onion and other vegetables, then to puree the sauce if you like.

Tomato-Spinach Simmer Sauce
Yield: Makes about 3 cups sauce Prep 15 mins Cook 30 mins Start to Finish 45 mins


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon each ground coriander and cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1/2 cup well-stirred coconut milk, or to taste
  • 2 packed cups (about 3 ounces) fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 lime, plus lime wedges for serving

Make It

1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the vegetable oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno and ginger and saute for 3 more minutes. Add the spices and two large pinches of salt and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.

2. Add the tomatoes and their liquid to the pan. Swirl a couple tablespoons of water in the empty tomato can and add that too. Stir well and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover partially, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for another minute. Add the spinach and stir just until wilted, 2 minutes. If you prefer a smoother sauce (or if whole spinach leaves are unpopular in your house) pulse the sauce briefly in a food processor or blender.

4. The sauce is now ready to use. Add a pound of cubed boneless skinless chicken (or a whole chicken cut into pieces), cubed fish or fish fillets, a can of drained chickpeas or fresh Indian cheese (paneer) to the warm sauce and simmer gently, covered, until heated/cooked through. Alternatively, wilt in double the spinach and serve the spinach curry with rice or naan. Or freeze the sauce for up to 1 month.

5. To serve, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, season with salt to taste, and garnish with cilantro if desired. Serve over rice, with lime wedges, yogurt and chutney if desired.


  • Serving suggestions: steamed basmati rice, plain yogurt, mango chutney or fresh mango, and chopped cilantro
  • Find out more about this recipe on Mom Appetit's blog.