Sunday, June 26, 2011

Blog about Saag (and Naan)

Just in case you were wondering, Saag does rhyme with blog. And though it looks a little funny, it is just absolutely marvelous! I have made this several times, not really measuring too carefully and it always comes out just right. The only precaution I would say is to not be too overzealous with the turmeric, as I am. I tend to be heavy handed with it, because I know that it has very powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is very healing. Amazingly, there is research to back that up, and I say amazingly, because so much of herbal medicine is often dismissed due to a lack of research. Anyhow, adding too much turmeric can cause a numbing on your tongue, that is not unpleasant, just a little weird. So just stick to the amount here, and if you need to have more turmeric, perhaps have some golden milk (1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon turmeric, heat with honey to taste).

I have been so excited about eating more spices, herbs, and healing foods now I am done with my course on culinary herbalism, but I am far from testing all of the delicious recipes that we were given. (Just you wait!) Almost all of them have an Indian theme to them because the teacher, K.P. Khalsa, teaches Ayurvedic medicine. So if you are a fan of Indian food, you must try this delicious saag. And if you are feeling crafty, try the naan too. It is fairly easy to make. I think I made it on a Wednesday when I was still an intern. But then again I think I made tamales once on a weekday too. It is called cooking therapy for the stressed.

Saag with Spinach and Rainbow Chard
Adapted from K.P. Khalsa's recipe

2 big bunches of greens, chopped (such as spinach, kale, fresh rainbow chard, etc.)
2-3 inches fresh ginger root, peeled, cut small chunks
5-6 cloves garlic, whole, peeled
2-3 tablespoons butter or ghee or olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced narrow short strips
1 rounded tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne or to taste
1 rounded tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. freshly ground coriander seeds
1-2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or 1 cup canned tomatoes)
salt to taste

1. Put 2” of water in a stock pot. Bring to boil. Add chopped
greens. Add ginger and garlic. Let simmer together uncovered turning over a few times, until greens are wilted.
2. Heat  butter in a 12”-or-larger iron skillet or heavy frying pan.
3. Add onions and fry on high heat, stirring occasionally to evenly sizzle.
4. When onions are starting to brown (about 10 minutes), make a little pool in the middle.
5. Add turmeric and cayenne to center and let sizzle for about 30 seconds. Then stir in with onions.
6. Add other spices and continue to cook on medium-high heat, stirring as needed.
7. Pour off some broth from greens into onions and keep cooking onions in pan. Keep cooking greens in pot.
8. When broth has cooked out of onions, add chopped tomatoes. Cook this onion and spice mixture until very well done and unified and thick.
10. Drain remaining broth from greens. Reserve to use in another soup.
11. Transfer drained greens & ginger, and onion mixture into food processor bowl and process. Or you can add the greens to the onions and use your immersion blender.
13. Served with rice or bread. Add a little tofu cubes for some protein if you like.

Naan with Cilantro and Spearmint
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
2 cups of whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water, at 110 to 115 degrees
1/2 cup plain yogurt, buttermilk, or whey from yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons melted butter
Cilantro and mint leaves

Foam the yeast with the sugar and warm water for about 5-10 minutes.
Stir together dry ingredients and add yeast mixture. Then add buttermilk.
Knead for about 10 minutes until elastic. Let rise 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down, knead briefly, form 4 balls, and allow to rest 10 minutes.
Flatten into a disk. Place a few sprigs of cilantro and mint onto the dough and bring the edges up to the center to cover the herbs.
Roll out very thin.
Heat up a frying pan(or the oven at 475).
Add a little of the melted butter to coat the pan.
Add the rolled out naan. when it begins to form bubbles on the surface, flip it over. Both sides should be browned lightly. Brush the finished naan with melted butter to keep them soft.

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