So, a confession. I refused to eat Indian food for a fairly absurd amount of time. It smells weird! The spices are unfamiliar! I’m stubborn! I got along pretty well for refusing to eat an entire subcontinent’s native food, but when I moved to San Francisco my friends decided that this could no longer stand. I helped one friend make curry, and had another patiently guide me through the menu to find things I would probably like. Sure enough, as always, they were right. Indian food is nummy! So now, as always, I’ve decided that I need to learn how to cook it! Which coincided conveniently with my Meatless May and brings us to the inaugural dinner: Saag with collards, kale and spinach!
I got this recipe from a blog called Herbivoracious, which is really good, except that the author seems to have a pressure cooker fetish. I’ve actively disliked pressure cookers since one erupted a Vesuvius of beans at my stepmother in high school and I had to clean up the resulting carnage. But, that aside, you should check out his blog! Also, he has a cookbook.
Saag with Collard Greens, Kale and Spinach
Vegetarian and gluten free
Serves 4 as part of a larger Indian dinner
15 minutes active (1 hour total)
For the spice mixture:
- 1/4 teaspoon ground asoefetida (hing)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly grated, use a bit more if not)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- Place all ingredients in a small bowl.
For the saag:
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 bunch collard greens (about 1 pound total kale and collard greens)
- 10 ounce package frozen spinach (or 1 pound fresh baby spinach, washed)
- 3 tablespoons butter or ghee
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup yogurt (I used full fat)
- Strip the coarse stems from their kale and collard greens, chop them roughly, and wash them in three changes of warm water in a large bowl. Drain off the water, add the spinach, and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a very large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the spice mixture and stir until fragrant but not burning, about 1 minute.
- Add the greens and 1/2 cup water. Toss with tongs, then cover. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook, tossing occasionally, until completely tender and wilted, about 45 minutes, adding a bit more water if needed.
- Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and allow to cool slightly. Stir in the yogurt. Taste and adjust seasoning. Gently reheat, but don’t bring all the way up toward a simmer or the yogurt may break.
I also made cous cous, because…well, because it’s delicious, and I have no respect for different cultures’ culinary traditions. It worked well with this, though, the texture complimented the tender greens and the flavor didn’t overwhelm it.
One of the things I like about cooking Indian is the colors — they’re so vibrant!
This isn’t a great example, but I wanted to show off a new spice I just discovered for this recipe: asafoetida. Wikipedia doesn’t tell me how to pronounce it, but it does say that it’s native to Afghanistan, and can be used as a digestive aid, since it relieves flatulance. So, next time you’re feeling a little airy, don’t reach for the Beano, grab this instead!