This version of saag is prevalent in Northern Indian cuisine, where cream is often used for a richer finish. I first tasted Rumi Mahmood’s version served with an exquisite plate of rice and Shrimp Dopiaza. Rumi often uses frozen spinach, which is of excellent quality, having been flash-frozen immediately after picking. For me, it means easy access to a delicious dish.
Serves 4 as a side dish
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon red chile flakes or cayenne
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon salt, more if needed
- 12 ounces frozen spinach or 1 1⁄2 pounds fresh, blanched and all water squeezed out 1⁄2 cup half and half or cream
- Heat oil in a 10-inch or larger skillet over low heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add ginger and cook for 5 minutes or more. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 10 more minutes.
- Add chile flakes or cayenne, tumeric, cumin, coriander, and salt.
- Continue cooking until flavors are mellow (neither smelling nor tasting raw), about 10 more minutes.
- Add spinach and half and half or cream; simmer until hot, about 5 minutes.
- Blend mixture in a food processor or blender.
- Serve as a side dish with other types of main dish curries, rice, and roti or naan (flatbreads), or with Turmeric Crepes (see page 57).
Saag Aloo (Spinach with Potatoes) is a common and heartier variation. Parboil 2 medium red or Yukon gold potatoes, peel, and cut into 1⁄2-inch dice. Season with salt and pepper and brown in oil. Add blended Saag to the potatoes. Heat for about 2 more minutes.
Blanching means to briefly boil vegetables and then stop the cooking by plunging them into ice water. After blanching, always drain thoroughly by squeezing vegetables dry with a clean towel.