Something Like Saag

This started out as Saag (greens).  Specifically Veena Bahadur’s Saag from Madhur Jaffrey’s Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail.  It’s a book that doesn’t come out too often, since it’s pretty meat-heavy and has a limited bean and vegetable section; but the meat and dairy-free recipes I can make from it are worth the purchase price.   Book aside, the recipe became more of an inspiration and supper ended up as a comforting one-pot meal perfect for a weeknight when time is at a premium.  Also perfect for using up leftovers in the fridge.  And big bonus: even the family five year old found that radish greens and spinach were a winning proposition when prepared this way.

Yield: 3 as a main, 6 as a side

What you need:

  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 dried red chilies
  • 2 medium onions, halved and sliced finely into half-moons
  • 1 lb greens (spinach, radish, chard, turnip, collards, kale, beet greens or a mix of any or all of them), finely sliced (fresh or frozen works equally well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cooked rice (red rice as shown looks pretty, but any kind of rice will work as long as it isn’t sticky or risotto)
  • 2 cups roasted cauliflower (or other roasted vegetable in the fridge)

What you do:

  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the cumin and chilies and toss them around until the dried peppers darken.  Add the onions and stir and fry everything until the onions are dark and crisping, but not quite burnt.  If you don’t like that charred-onion taste (or cleaning it off the pot), then cook’em less.
  2. When the onions are to your liking, add the greens and salt.  Keep cooking at that same level of heat until the liquid is gone, 10 to 15 minutes, perhaps less if your greens are dry.  If things are really dry and start sticking, a few splashes of water or broth can help.
  3. Turn the heat to low, remove the whole chilies and add the cooked rice and cauliflower.  Mix well to distribute all the ingredients evenly amongst each other.  Cover and cook another five minutes.
  4.  Serve either as a main dish in large portion or as a side dish.

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