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Saag with Cottage Cheese

Saag just isn’t photogenic. Unfortunately, because it is very delicious, and I have bucketloads of silverbeet (chard if you are not in Australia)  in the garden at the moment and saag is one of the very best recipes I know to use bucketloads of it (and still want to come back for more tomorrow).

Saag is a northern Indian spiced puree of spinach (or silver beet).  This far north I never have spinach in those kind of quantities, but I do have silver beet – it’s a garden no-fail this time of year, and it’s a superfood for a whole heap of reasons.  It has lots of  antioxidant beta carotene, good for protecting against aging inside and out due to cell damage.  And it’s  a  good source of folic acid, which is good for the immune and nervous systems and with the number of colds and flu’s going round right now, that’s a good thing. And it has heaps of calcium and magnesium and vitamin K which are all important for bones.

The Recipe:

Serves two generously.

Into a cup, put:

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel or dill seeds
  • the seeds from 5 cardamom pods

(It’s better if you use whole seeds for this)

Chop and have ready to add:

  • 2 finely diced chilis (more or less, depending on how strong your chilis are and how spicy you like your food.  Saag is best mildly spiced though).
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a heaped teaspoon of grated or finely diced fresh ginger
  • a heaped teaspoon of grated or finely diced fresh turmeric (or substitute a scant teaspoon of turmeric powder)

Heat quite a decent swig of oil in a big pot or pressure cooker.  Traditionally it would have been ghee, but I don’t like to use quite that much butter.  Olive oil is a bit strong flavoured though. I use macadamia oil, but any sweet or mild flavoured oil would work.

Add the seeds and cook, stirring till they start to pop.  (Don’t let them burn). Then add the chili/ginger/turmeric/garlic mix. Cook stirring for another minute or two, then add

  • a cup of vegetable stock, with some salt in it
  • the shredded leaves from a BIG bunch of silverbeet.  Just the leaf stripped from the stem, chopped reasonably fine.  Lots – at least two packed cupfuls.  I often add a few mustard leaves too.
  • bay leaves
  • 3 cm of cinnamon stick

Pressure cook for 5 minutes, or simmer for 15, then reduce until there is just a little bit of liquid left. Take it off the heat and blend in 3 or 4 heaped dessertspoons of cottage cheese (low fat works fine).  I use a stick blender for this, but you could use a blender, food processor, or even a mouli.

Serve with naan bread for scooping.

Do you have a favourite Tuesday Night Vego Challenge recipe for this time of year?  Links are welcome in the comments.

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Zara July 10, 2012, 5:37 pm

    I’ve never heard of Saag. But what a good way of using up all the silverbeet.

  • Fiona July 10, 2012, 8:12 pm

    That will be going on the menu this week as we have a lot of silverbeet and love indian food.

  • Tracey July 10, 2012, 8:51 pm

    I haven’t heard of it either, but I love a good silverbeet user-upper. We have rainbow silverbeet growing, of which nearly all of the crop is the dark leaves and pink stems…. we’d have pink saad! Wonder if that would be more photogenic? 😛 That recipe has all of my favourite spices and I love anything served with naan, so I’m going to add it to the list.

  • Barbaral July 11, 2012, 10:05 am

    From my Aussie friends thru blog reading I have enjoyed learning that
    Chooks are chickens and silver beet is Swiss chard. What fun to learn new things!

  • Jason Dingley July 11, 2012, 1:20 pm

    I have allot of kale in my garden and have found it too seem to make a good spinach alternative.

  • Liz July 11, 2012, 4:29 pm

    I make a chicken saag on a pretty much weekly basis – always with silver beet. Love it! I will have to try your vego version.

  • Celia July 13, 2012, 6:58 am

    Fabulous! I have just planted rainbow chard, and will try this recipe when they grow. I can’t usually get silverbeet past the masses, but this might work.. 🙂

    Do you think it would work with kale? Thanks..

  • Linda July 13, 2012, 9:33 am

    Not sure about kale. I often put some mustard leaves in along with the silver beet, and no doubt I could use kale instead of the mustard. But I’m not sure kale goes with cottage cheese quite so well as silver beet. But I’m often surprised by cooking inventions, so don’t trust me! Saag is a traditional dish, so for sure someone has done the experiment. Might have to go off and do some googling.

  • Sarah July 13, 2012, 10:14 pm

    I love saag! But I agree about it being less than photogenic. 🙂

  • Jane Robinson July 14, 2012, 7:17 pm

    We have just finished a most satisfying meal of swag. I doubled the silver beet and thought I would double the spice but it was too much spice. But it was well toned down with some yoghurt. Wonderful recipe. Thank you again Linda.

  • June Appleyard July 18, 2012, 8:09 am

    Always looking for different ways to use silverbeet – can’t wait to try this one. We are in the process of building our first mandala and just love your book, thank you. We will be travelling from Toowoomba to Ballina this weekend – do you know of any mandala gardens that are open to the public that we could visit. It is always great to see what other people are doing. All this rain is stopping our mandala progress.
    Thanks, June

  • Linda July 18, 2012, 9:01 am

    Hi June,
    sorry, I don’t know. Maybe someone else reading this does?

  • June Appleyard July 19, 2012, 2:37 pm

    Thanks anyway. We have a couple of community gardens picked out to visit. Cheers.

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