Saag (kind of)

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Well, this is my version of it anyway.  Saag is one of my favorite things to order at Indian restaurants and Indian food is one of my favorite things to indulge in when we go out to eat (that or Sushi).  The problem with Saag, at least for me, is you never just want Saag.  It’s not a dish that makes much of a meal.  Even if you get the Saag Paneer or Saag Aloo.

So this is a bastardized version of Saag.  And by bastardized I mean, it’s got a whole bunch of crap thrown into it (garbanzo beans, potatoes, tofu) and it’s healthier.  I’m sorry food traditions of India, I just can’t help myself sometimes.

I put a decent amount of heat into this dish because one time a waitress misunderstood me and thought I wanted my Saag extra spicy instead of my vindaloo.  It turned out to be delicious but I payed for it later.

Recipe:

1 onion (diced) 
16 oz spinach
16 oz mustard greens
1 block extra firm tofu
2 oz ginger (about 2 in chunk, diced) 
3 medium white potatoes (1 inch cubes) 
5 garlic cloves (diced) 
1 cup dry garbanzo beans (OR 2 cans) 
2 tsp whole cumin (ground)
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cayenne (optional)
1 dried pepper (optional, I used dundicut)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup greek yogurt (I used 0%)
salt
2 tsp olive oil + 1 tsp olive oil

Make your beans, or if you’re using canned you’re all set with that.

Cut your tofu in half long ways and place paper towels above and below and top with a weighted plate or baking sheet.  This removes excess water and makes the tofu denser.

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Bring a pot of water to boil for your potatoes and prep them.

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While your water is coming to a boil prep your other ingredients.

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Your water should now be boiling so add your potatoes and parboil them.  They should be done after about 3 minutes.  You want the edges to start looking translucent while the center is still white.

Rinse your potatoes under cold water (this ensures they won’t turn to mush when we fry them and it washes off residual starch).

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Dry out your potatoes (I use a salad spinner) and coat them with your 1 tbsp curry and 1 tsp cayenne.

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And fry them up with your 2 tsp oil.  Near the end of their cooking time you can add the tofu to start giving that some flavor, but you don’t have to.

When they’re done remove to a plate and set aside.

Lightly salt here.

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Over medium low heat add your other 1 tsp oil, garlic, ginger, dried pepper (if using) and onion to your final cooking pan.  Cook for at least 15 minutes to get it to that toffee color, do not let it burn.

Lightly salt here.

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While your onions are doing their thing you can start cleaning your greens.  If you’re using frozen (which you can, in fact it will make the dish faster and easier to cook, but who needs that?) then ignore these next few steps.

Fill up your sink with cold water (clean it first, duh) and dump your greens in there.  Swirl them around then let the gunk settle.

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Remove them to a bowl and for a brief second be excited you decided to go with fresh greens.

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Then look at your sink and be happy you listened to me about cleaning them this way first.

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Now chop your greens.  This part is a bitch, I’m not going to lie.  But seriously, how pretty does that look?  Don’t forget about your onions.

Mustard greens are more bitter than spinach.  If you want you can use all spinach, the mustard greens at the store just looked so fresh I couldn’t resist and I love me some mustard greens.

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Now back to your onions.  See?  Toffee color.  Do not try and rush this process by cooking it at a higher temperature, the onions will not like you for that.

After this 15 minutes has passed add your cumin and cook for another 5.  Deal with it, if you wanted fast Indian, go to a restaurant.

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Now add your greens.  You don’t want your greens to be dry, so don’t put them through a salad spinner or anything.

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Increase your heat to medium and add your 1/2 cup of water.

Lightly salt here.

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Now here’s where I followed an incorrect recipe.  It told me 5 minutes would be a fine enough time to cook my greens down.  5 minutes is not enough time and does not give you that creamy Saag texture.  Simmer your green for at least 20 minutes with the lid on, checking regularly for water level.  You don’t want it to be soupy and you don’t want it to be dry.

After 20 minutes add your beans, potatoes, and tofu.  Simmer for another 5 minutes with the lid off.

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Now because I did the 5 minutes instead of the 10 I had to cook it longer so my tofu broke up.  It still tasted delicious but just something to keep in mind.

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Now you can add your 1/2 cup greek yogurt if you want.  It’s not traditional in Saag but because we use so much less fat it helps up the creaminess a little.  If you do decide to use it turn off your heat and temper your yogurt.  Do this by adding small spoons of your warm Saag to a bowl with your yogurt and stir.  When the yogurt has warmed up add it to your pot and turn the heat back on to a low simmer for 5 minutes.

This is ready to eat now but, like foods of a similar fashion it’s much better the longer you let it stew.

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Serve by itself, with rice, or in a Whole Wheat Pita pocket!

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