Monday, February 28, 2011

Sarsoon ka Saag or Jolly Green Glop

I am not trying to become a vegetarian but I have cut back substantially on eating red meat and fish (because the oceans are being over fished and red meat - well, that should be pretty self-explanatory). 

I try to plan for a meatless Monday and today's meal was right out of the pages of Julie Sahni's book on Vegetarian Indian Cooking. Well, maybe not quite RIGHT out - let's say, inspired by the original recipe but with several Nancy-type variations. 

Sarsoon Ka Saag is mustard greens cooked with a little cornmeal, Punjabi-style. I always keep several kinds of greens in the fridge so I substituted 1/2 cup of collard, turnip, mustard greens and chard. When the greens were completely thawed, I squeezed all the excess water out of them and put them in a colander to drain.

While the greens were draining, I sauteed one large onion and several cloves of garlic in vegetable oil. Then I added 1 tbsp Menthi power (I think it's made from Fenugreek), two green chilies (seeded and diced), 1 tbsp of coriander and a large piece of ginger, peeled and chopped into small pieces. 

Then, I sprinkled the pan with 1/4 cup of cornmeal because the mixture is supposed to be silky and somewhat thick. Once all the spices smelled fragrant, I added all the greens and made sure that the spices were completely mixed with the greens. Lastly, I added about 2 cups of vegetable stock. Simmer until the greens are tender and salt and pepper to taste.

You are supposed to add a spiced butter to the mix when it's ready to eat but I didn't want to add any extra fats. I also thought that the greens weren't spiced enough to my taste. I like much more spice and vinegar in my greens so I added vinegar to taste (maybe 1/4 cup each of cider and white wine vinegar), more sauteed garlic, two more diced chilies and a cup of pickled carrots. 

Now, that's good eating. 

If I make it again, I'll leave out the cornmeal as I didn't feel that it added anything. I don't need a thickener with my greens. I like them chunky, vinegary and hot, with lots of roughly chopped up pieces of onion and carrots.

Here's an official version from somewhere on the web:

1 bunch spinach washed and chopped fine (approximately 1/2 lb or 250 gms)
1 bunch mustard greens washed and chopped fine (approximately 1/2 lb or 250 gms)
2 green chillies
1 tbsp grated ginger (or paste)
1 tbsp grated garlic (or paste)
Salt to taste
2-3 tbsps ghee (clarified butter)
1 large onion grated
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
Juice of 1/2 a lime/ lemon
1 tbsp bengal gram flour/ maize flour

Mix the greens, green chillies and salt to taste and boil in 1 cup of water till cooked.
Mash the greens mix well to make a course paste.
In another pan, heat the ghee on a medium flame. When hot add the grated onion and fry till pale golden.
Add all the other ingredients and fry till oil separates from the masala (onion-spice mix).
Add the greens mix to this and stir till blended.


Zoomie said...

You can get from the Monterey Bay Aquarium a list of fish that are sustainably harvested (and it also lists ones that aren't) so you can eat fish without guilt. Also, if you buy pasture-raised local beef, it's expensive, so you won't eat too much but you can treat yourself occasionally and know that it is healthy, too.

namastenancy said...

You know, I've got that darn list posted on my fridge but keep forgetting to check it out before I go shopping for fish. I usually settle for trout, catfish or salmon in season - I don't like fishy tasting fish. I have started eating buffalo meat instead of beef and find that I really like it. I do occasionally treat myself to a good piece of beef which I buy at one of the markets in the Ferry Bldg but ouch! for the price. I remember when parts like kidneys, sweetbreads, tongue, etc were inexpensive but now they cost more per pound than USDA choice.
I don't want to pretend that I am Saint Nancy regarding eating red meat, etc. I'm more like "want to be good" but often not as good as I should be. Still, I am always mindful of how lucky we are to have such a choice and such an abundance.