Monday, 4 February 2013
Saag- Bengali-style spring greens
I guess going to Kolkata recently has made me think about cooking Bengali food a bit more regularly. So here's something that's pretty easy to make, but is rather delicious. Bengali vegetable dishes don't tend to include garlic, but this recipe for spring greens is an exception. The greens are braised with garlic and kalo jeera (black onion seeds) until soft and very tender, and then finished off with a bit of ghee. It's an ideal side dish to go with other Indian food, but I suspect it would be quite nice with a bit of poached fish too.
Recipe (enough for 4-6 as a side dish):
2-3 heads of spring greens, around 500g, washed and shredded
4-5 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 heaped tsps kalo jeera/black onion seeds
1-2 Indian green chillis (optional)
1 generous tblsp ghee
1-2 tblsp sunflower (or another plain) oil
1 tsp salt (or adjust to taste)
Heat the oil in a large, wide-bottomed pan, and when it's warm put in the black onion seeds. Swirl them around a bit, and as the oil gets hotter they'll start to spit and pop. This should only take a minute or so, and when they start doing this add the garlic. Turn down the heat if necessary, as the garlic shouldn't really brown much. After another minute put the greens in and give everything a really good stir to make sure that the garlic and kalo jeera aren't all stuck on the bottom of the pan. Pierce the whole green chillis a couple of times, so that they release their flavour but hardly any heat, and add them to the greens with the salt. Give everything another good stir, turn the heat down low, put a lid on, and allow the greens to cook for at least 15 minutes. The residual water left on the leaves from washing them should create some steam which will help cook them, but stir occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the pan. When the greens are completely cooked, add the ghee and stir it through to coat all the leaves. This is one of those times when you don't want your vegetables to have any bite to them, and the greens should be cooked all the way through with the stalks easily falling apart. The saag won't look that exciting but the generous amounts of garlic and ghee do a very good job of pepping up these otherwise rather boring vegetables. Serve with rice and dahl, (or something else).