18 May 2011

Rainy Day Lunch #3 - Saag Palak and Caraway Rice


Last evening, I got such an itch to make Indian - chicken tikka masala and saag palak with a big bowl of rice to help sooth the hot spiciness of the spices and peppers. It was sooo good - and it felt good to get off my duff and put energy into cooking a good meal after sloughing the afternoon away on the couch with my book The Burning Times .

Consequently, today there is leftover saag palak and chicken. Silent Bob loved the chicken and was 'meh' on the spinach, but I love both - and since I also love Silent Bob, I'll leave him the chicken for his lunch and I will have a big bowl of warm rice with the Indian spinach (saag) on the side. The spinach color has faded over night and the colors of the turmeric and cumin have taken over, which means the spice flavors will be even more amazing ... but it still looks gloppy.


An aside: Sometimes, leftovers are just that ... leftovers. They sit like Eeyore the donkey just waiting for attention. When you drag them out of the fridge and give them a new incarnation, they are soooo grateful. Can't you just hear that bowl of saag muttering, "Thanks for noticing me." ?



My saag palak recipe came from a website I found a while ago, when researching Indian cuisine ... there are a lot of sites dedicated to Indian cuisine out there. This one covers many international dishes and is called whats4eats. Last week, I found the recipe changed up a bit on Shu Han's  blog, Mummy, I can cook! . Her rendition looked amazingly good, so the idea of playing with both recipes a bit worked for me. Of course, I didn't have everything the recipe called for so ... I substituted powdered ginger for the ginger root (I bet the ginger root would have been much better, but hey ...) What a creamy, smooth, spicy pile of spinach I made! I love it! Thank-you, Shu Han!

A word about the rice ... tell me if you've ever done this with rice. This restaurant that SB and I frequented when we lived in North Carolina served steamed basmati rice with a dollop of butter and a generous pinch of caraway seed . The caraway gives the rice a wonderful herb-y flavor and the butter, well butter is just heaven on rice.

Saag Palak

Ingredients:

1 lb. fresh spinach leaves, washed and spun out in a salad spinner
1st tbsp. ghee
1 handful fresh cilantro
2nd tbsp. ghee
1 medium onion, small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. ginger root, minced
1 green chili pepper, minced seeds and all (I use jalapeno peppers)
2 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. cumin
½ c. plain yogurt (I use Stoneyfield)
¼ c. light cream
kosher salt
fresh lemon juice
3rd tbsp. ghee for drizzling

Making the Dish:

1. Heat a large deep non-stick pan, add the first tablespoon of ghee and the spinach.

2. Toss to coat and wilt the spinach. Cover and steam for a few minutes.

3. When the spinach is wilted, but still has some form, slide it into a deep bowl and add the cilantro. Use a hand blender to puree the greens and set them aside for a few minutes.

4. In the same pan, add a second tbsp of ghee, and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, and pepper until they are semi-soft.

5. Add the spices and stir them to form a paste of aromatics.

6. Fold in the spinach and continue folding to completely incorporate the spices throughout the spinach.

7. Remove from the heat, and cool just a bit.

8. Fold in the yogurt and cream, drizzle with a squirt of  fresh lemon juice, and add kosher salt to taste.

9. Drizzle with one last tbsp. of ghee and serve with hot naan bread or with rice and an entrée dish.

Serves 4 … or 2 spinach fanatics

8 comments:

  1. Ah, yummy in the extreme! We love any kind of Indian food. In fact we're just heading out to our favourite Indian restaurant now!

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  2. Oh, this sounds delicious, I really like most of the Indian food that I've had. Thanks for the recipe, I'll give it a try.

    So, how long is this rainy day lunch series going to continue . . . LOL!!! Isn't this awful! I can't believe how cold it is!

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  3. @ Mary - Haha! Don't know how long the rainy day lunches will go ... it's just been a fun way to spend the week ... so damp and chilly outside! All I want to do is stay in and keep a little fire going in the woodstove and stay toasty! I wish I could be outside planting though!

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  4. I love saag and Joe doesn't so when we were on our cruise, I ate it every day. I was so happy they had good Indian food on the ship. Something different every day but they always had the saag.

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  5. i'm so happy you liked the saag! I'm going to try it with the caraway rice you mentioned next time! (:

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  6. The caraway rice sounds great- and have you made saag with paneer? I've got a recipe on my blog for making it at home- it's really easy and incredibly satisfying pulling off such a simple cheese. The homemade stuff tastes a bit like Haloumi. It might even tempt Silent Bob back to the saag?

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  7. I haven't had a lot of Indian food. I guess my first choice when we go out is usually Italian. Looks delicious though and I'm wondering if this would be a good dish to experiment eating Indian Cuisine.

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  8. @ tgs- I have had saag paneer! So delish! Will look at the blog and get the recipe! Thanks! SB will be a tough sell. He says he had enough pureed spinach as a baby ... ;-) ... and will probably have more when he's in his dotage ... the stubborn guy!

    @ Susan - Love saag, but it is a dish to have with another (besides rice) for a substantial meal ... hence the tikka masala. You should try that too ... very simple to make and tasty!

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