Discover Secrets of Indian home food

Recipe:

Ultimate Saag

Growing up this was a true labour of love, and a process spread across a couple of days (fear not technology has moved us on to expedite this). It conjures certain memories for me, my grandparents would pick the mature spinach/saag grown in the garden, then the kitchen sink would be full of saag and thoroughly cleaned as part of the preparation – you couldn’t move for spinach!

My sister and I would have a hand in chopping this occasionally but grandmother would take the lead, using a fearsome looking device called a daat, imagine a foot scythe, a wooden block with a menacingly sharp curved blade at the front. She’d slice a whole host of different food items with this most dexterously. We didn’t have stick blenders back then either, so once all of the greens were cooked this had to be pounded with a huge wooden pestle. It was a rigorous work out!

The funniest thing about saag is that spinach is NOT the only ingredient, it’s a whole medley of green vegetables which to my mind makes this a SUPERFOOD!

Ingredients

  • 500g spinach
  • x2 leeks
  • Whole head of broccoli
  • 1 kg fresh or frozen brussel sprouts
  • x1 savoy cabbage
  • 200g kale
  • 200g spring greens
  • 50g fresh fenugreek leaves/methi (or good pinch of dried if you don’t have this)
  • 30g coriander leaves
  • 1 and a half cubes minced garlic (1 and a half tsp per frozen cube)
  • 1 and a half cubes minced ginger (1 and a half tsp per frozen cube)
  • 2 tsp minced chillies (or to taste)
  • x3 heaped tbsp fine cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp Maldon sea salt
  • Approx 2 litres of water

For the Tarka

  • 40g butter
  • Finely chopped onion
  • 1-2 tsp cumin seeds
  • Chopped garlic (half to 1 cube)
  • Minced chillies (to taste)
  • Maldon sea salt (to taste)
  • Chopped coriander leaves
Prep Time:
25 minutes
Cooking Time:
2-3 hours
Serves:
LOADS!!
Cook’s Tip:

As this will make so much, batch freeze the remaining saag, and defrost as required for a quick and easy. All you have to do is make the fresh tarka.

Serving Suggestion:

Serve with parathas! The saag is so virtuous you can balance with a little of something naughty.

Method

1. Chop and slice your green veg as appropriate.

2. Take a large lidded saucepan – at least 28cm diameter. Bring 2 litres of water to the boil.

3. Chuck in the ginger, garlic, chillies and salt, then all of the chopped greens in stages. You may need to smush all of this down into the boiling water, as there will be quite a volume. Don’t be tempted to add more water at this point as the salt will draw liquid out remember. Once all of the greens are submerged, and at boiling point, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 2 hours.

4. You may need to tend for a while and push down any greens trying to escape and or add a small amount of more water.

5. Add and mix in the fine cornmeal. Take off the heat, and blend with a stick blender until smooth or to a consistency you are happy with. Test your seasoning you’ll then know what to compensate for in the tarka.

6. Put a little more water as necessary and put back on the hob so the cornmeal can cook out. Careful it may spit! Stir. Set aside.

7. The finish is in sight, time for the tarka, This has to be in butter. Melt the butter in a frying pan/saucepan and add a little splash of oil which will prevent the butter from burning. Fry the cumin, onions, garlic, salt and chillies (in that order), once softened check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. The saag can take a fair bit of chillies. Add in a portion of the saag from the big saucepan (say for 4 people) to the tarka and mix through. Let these simmer for a couple of minutes and intertwine. Sprinkle liberally with chopped coriander and mix. See how vibrant the coriander looks. Now taste, and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve & eat immediately!