This is a common Punjabi dish, typically served in winter. The name palak ka saag roughly translates as “greens made with spinach”. The term saag usually refers to a dish made with pureed green leaves.
Further, saag is often used as the basis for other dishes, including paneer, lamb or vegetables.
The traditional way to serve palak ka saag is as a simple meal with corn meal roti, giving a very nourishing and healthy meal. You could serve it finger food, accompanied by roti – wheat or corn – cut into wedges. You could even serve it as side dish.
The technique of blanching and chilling the spinach was taught to me by a chef friend. This preserves the vibrant green colour of the spinach, which otherwise will become brown in most recipes. This technique is applicable to most of the leafy green vegetable recipes in this book.
You can substitute almost any similar ingredient for the spinach. Mustard greens (sarson), fenugreek leaves (methi) or, a favourite of ours, silverbeet are often used. Lettuce-like leaves do not work as they become too watery.
- 400 g spinach leaves - washed and stalks removed
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
to make the puree
- Prepare an ice bath by placing two litres of cold water in a large bowl then adding ice cubes.
- Bring two litres of water to a boil in a large pot. When the water starts to boil add the turmeric.
- Add the spinach leaves to the water and bring the water back to a boil.
- When the water has returned to the boil, immediately remove the leaves from the water and use a strainer to drain them. Plunge them into the ice-cold water for a few seconds to cool the leaves.
- Remove leaves from the iced water and lightly squeeze to remove any excess moisture.
- Transfer leaves to a food processor and blend to a fine puree.
- Refrigerate immediately to stop any residual heat browning the spinach.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a frypan.
- When the oil is hot, remove the pan from the heat and add the cumin seeds. When the seeds start to crackle add the crushed garlic and salt, mix well, and fry until the raw garlic smell has gone.
- Add the turmeric and chopped chili and mix well.
- Return the pan to the heat and add the puréed spinach. Mix well.
- Reduce heat a little, and cook for around ten minutes, folding regularly. The spinach is cooked when the oil separates and rises to the surface.
- Remove from heat, place into a bowl and serve.
- 400g of English spinach is approximately two bunches.
- Silverbeet is a good alternative to English spinach.