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Its a saag!

September 9, 2014

Roasted veges with my saag have a more intense flavour

Roasted veges with my saag have a more intense flavour. I didn’t mix them in for the photo as it wasn’t very photogenic!

I love a good shag, I mean saag, don’t you?!

Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to find one in my local vicinity. Most are made on canned spinach, stewed until the life force (colour) is cooked out and pretty insipid and tasteless. We have friends whose standard order is Lamb Saag (saag gosht) when we dine at an Indian restaurant so I have sampled enough to not bother ordering anymore! I will always ask if the spinach is fresh before I consider it.

One of my favourite Indian restaurants, Nilgiri’s in Sydney has a lovely one, but it’s not that frequent that I get to visit. And in another of my favourites, all the way in Bangkok, I had the best saag of my life! It was vibrant green, fresh & spicy but not overpowering and interestingly, minty! So I was very excited when my husband and I went there recently to get my saag fix.

Alas……nothing stays the same… had changed since our last visit and what we were presented with was pretty much a rendition of the aforementioned: canned, grey, insipid and tasteless….. Oh, what an anti-climax… but it did inspire me to get off my bum and do something about it! MAKE MY OWN!

Saag is typically a leaf-based “gravy” dish eaten in North India and Pakistan with bread such as roti or naan. It is usually made from spinach, mustard leaves, or drumstick leaves and served as a curry with meat, potatoes or paneer.

I like to keep some texture in my sauce and not use too many spices so that the spinach flavour is not overwhelmed. My husband is adverse to cumin so I like to toast a few seeds and sprinkle them on top of mine – not too many though! You could also make a tadka by tempering some ghee with dried chillies, garlic and mustard seeds and pouring that as you serve it.

I also use whatever “green” I have in the fridge: kale, silverbeet, spinach and even lettuce. Try a mix and see what you like.

I make this up and keep a batch in the freezer. The secret to a good saag is keeping it fresh! I don’t cook my meat or potatoes in the sauce because both require long cooking and this destroys the nutrients, colour and flavour out of the greens.

1 teas fennel seeds
1/2 teas dried chilli flakes
30g fresh ginger
1 knob fresh turmeric
2 cloves
1 large onion
50g ghee or avocado oil
1 teas salt
15g macadamia nuts
220g fresh spinach, silverbeet or kale (or a mix)
200g water
1 tab brown rice syrup or stevia to taste
large handful mint leaves
Toast the fennel & chilli flakes for 4 mins on SP slow on VAROMA temp.
Add the ginger, turmeric & cloves and chop on SP 9 for 5 seconds. Add the onion and chop further for 5 seconds. 
Add the ghee or oil and cook  for 5 minutes on SP 1, VAROMA temp.
Add the macadamia nuts and grind on SP 8 for 20 seconds.
Add the spinach & water and chop on SP 7 for 20 seconds. Cook for 6 minutes on SP 4 @ 100°C with the MC tilted.
Add the sweetener & mint and puree on SP 9 for 30 seconds. Check for seasoning and add a little extra water if you prefer it thinner. If you like more texture, remove a few tablespoonfuls of the mix before puréeing, then add back afterwards.
Garnish with some more mint, toasted cumin seeds or fried shallots. Serve with some naan or flatbread or rice.

For this dish I like to roast some root vegetables: turnip, swedes, pumpkin & potato and stir through the sauce.

For a lamb saag, slow cook some lamb pieces in a bare minimum of liquid and then stir through the sauce at the end.

For a potato saag, roast or steam some potatoes and then cook in the sauce for 10 minutes to absorb some flavour.

For a paneer saag, heat the sauce and add the cheese just to warm through.


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