Saag gosht: two ways, Jaffrey’s and Rushdie’s.

An Indian shelf would scarcely be complete without a recipe or two for this.

Saag gosht a la Madhur Jaffrey

Ingredients
8 tbsp vegetable oil
0.25 tsp black peppercorns
6-7 cloves
2 bay leaves
6 cardamom pods
175g onions, peeled and finely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2.5 cm cube ginger, peeled and finely chopped
900g lamb shoulder, cut into 2.5cm cubes
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
0.25-0.75 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
5 tbsp natural yogurt
900 g fresh spinach, trimmed, washed and finely chopped or 900g frozen spinach, thawed out
0.25 tsp garam masala

Method

1. Put the oil in a large pan and set over a medium-high heat. When hot, put in the peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Stir for a second. Now put in the onions, garlic and ginger. Stir and fry until the onions develop brown specks.

Now add the meat, cumin, coriander, cayenne and 1 tsp salt. Stir and fry for 1 minute.

Add 1 tbsp of the beaten yogurt. Stir and fry for another minute. Add another tablespoon of the yogurt. Stir and fry for a minute. Keep doing this until all the yogurt has been incorporated. The meat should also have a slightly browned look.

Add the spinach and the remaining 1 tsp salt. Stir to mix. Keep stirring and cooking until the spinach wilts completely. Cover tightly and simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour 10 minutes or until the meat is tender.

2. Remove the lid and add the garam masala. Turn the heat to medium. Stir and cook another 5 minutes or until most (but not all) the water in the spinach disappears and you have a thick, green sauce.

3. Note The whole spice in this dish are not meant to be eaten.

PS: My experience with particularly tough looking meat, in this case some gravy beef.  I cooked it for an hour with extra water added to cover the meat completely, then reduced it to what it would have been otherwise, added the spinach, cooked for another hour or so. Did that yesterday, ate it today. It was divine, the meat melted in the mouth, the spinachy sauce was creamy.

And Rushdie’s version

Ingredients
900g boned leg of lamb
2 bunches spinach washed & finely chopped, less stems
175g onions finely chopped
1 tblsp garlic finely chopped*
1 tblsp ginger ” “*
225g tomatoes ” ”
6 tblsp cooking oil
½ teasp tumeric**
1+ teasp chilli powder**
2 teasp ground coriander**
2 green chillies finely sliced

Method
1. Fry onions til golden. Add garlic and ginger, fry 1 min and add ** spices. Stirfry for a few minutes and then add meat.

2. Brown meat while stirring to mix well.

3. Add tomatoes and 120 mls water. Cover and simmer for 25 mins. Check for sticking and add water if necessary. At end of this period can add 120 ml water. If cheap meat continue this process for longer. Should be half cooked at least.

4. Add spinach, mix well. Continue cooking slowly over low heat until meat is absolutely tender.

5. Turn heat up, add chillies, stir-fry till extra moisture disappears and the sauce is thick, rich and clinging to the meat.

I used to think this was better than the Jaffrey recipe, but now that I’ve revisited MJ’s recently and was greatly enamoured of it, I’m not so sure. Maybe it needs a cook off.

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Char Kway Teow

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients

1 kg/2 lb fresh rice noodles
250 g/8 oz barbecued pork
250 g/8 oz small prawns
2 lap cheong (Chinese sausage)
125 g/4 oz fresh bean sprouts
3 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
3 shallots, finely sliced
3-4 fresh red chillies, sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 eggs, beaten
4 spring onions (scallions), chopped
salt and pepper to taste

I wrote this up in Geneva some time ago….now I’m in Australia and fresh noodles abound.

I’m in Geneva, so mine is missing fresh noodles – arrgghhhhhhhhh! I am assured that I can make do by cooking dried noodles the night before and then have them sit in the fridge until using them the next day. We will see…

Also, I’m not a big fan of Chinese sausage, so it’ll be getting the gong.

These directions are from Charmaine Solomon Encyclopedia of Asian Food

Method

Pour boiling water over noodles to soften and separate them. Drain in a colander. Slice pork finely. Shell and devein prawns. Steam sausages for 5 minutes, and when plump and soft, cut into thin diagonal slices. Rinse bean sprouts and pick off tails.

Heat half the oil and fry garlic, shallots and chillies until soft. Add pork, prawns and sausage. Stir-fry for 2 minutes or until prawns change colour. Add bean sprouts and toss for 30 seconds. Turn mixture out of wok, heat remaining oil and stir-fry the noodles to heat through. Add soy sauce and oyster sauce and mix. Push noodles to side of wok, pour eggs and spring onions into the centre and stir till set. Return fried mixture and toss with the noodles. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Herbs and greens pasta sauce

Ingredients for two

  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • one shallot chopped
  • two cloves garlic chopped
  • a couple of good slugs of dry white wine
  • a good sized zucchini chopped
  • a couple of tablespoons pine nuts dry roasted to a light brown
  • flat leafed parsley, perhaps one cup of leaves
  • maybe half a cup or more of pouring cream
  • chopped green rounds from spring onions
  • chopped chives, maybe half a bunch
  • parmesan grated for the table

Method

While the pasta is cooking, in a medium saucepan fry the shallots and garlic in the butter until softened. Add the wine and boil until the alcohol is burned off. Add the zucchini and cook at a lively pace, saucepan covered, until the zucchini is soft. Add the cream, pine nuts and parsley. Puree. I continued to add parsley until there was a noticeable green fleck to the sauce.

Keep warm on a very low temperature, season with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, stir in the chives and spring onion rounds leaving a handful for decoration. Put drained spaghetti in bowls, add the sauce, mix thoroughly and then sprinkle the green rounds on top.

Parmesan and more pepper are required at the table.

I think when I try this again I will use at least double the zucchini and less cream. I would also like to try vodka rather than the wine, which I thought was a bit sweet. Not clear to me that the pine nuts added to this.

Parsley pesto

The simplest version, made for two.

  • olive oil
  • parsley including stalks – 1.5 bunches for two people – roughly chopped
  • maybe half a cup of pine nuts toasted
  • perhaps a cup of grated parmesan
  • one clove of garlic finely chopped

I layer these in a mixing cup: olive oil, parsley, a little of the garlic, some nuts, parsley, garlic, nuts, olive oil. Mash with a stick blender.

Add several dessert spoons of the pasta stock and then the cheese. Decide whether you’d like more liquid. I put in maybe half a dozen spoonfuls, but it will depend on your preferred consistency and how much olive oil you began with.

Put drained pasta in bowls, add a few spoonfuls of the pesto. Extra cheese and fresh pepper to be added as desired.

At the point of adding stock and parmesan, this simple combination is remarkably sweet. There are many things I might consider adding; for a start salted capers, anchovies, chillies, lemon are all on the table.

 

chickpea and vegetable soup

Nothing special here, just what was in the cupboard.

  • onion, peeled and chopped
  • carrot, peeled and chopped
  • potato, peeled and chopped
  • garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ghee or oil for cooking (I used grapeseed oil this time)
  • tin of chickpeas, hulled
  • ground cumin, coriander and chilli
  • water or stock
  • plain yoghurt, lemon and freshly ground pepper at the table

Obviously you can vary this at will or convenience. I used two medium carrots, maybe half a kg of potatoes, one onion. The key question may be how sweet you want it – and what colour.

On medium heat sauté the onion until it is softening, add the other vegetables and fry stirring for maybe 5 minutes. Turn heat down and add the garlic – no burning the garlic – and the ground spices. When the spices are thoroughly mixed in, add the water or stock along with the chickpeas. It doesn’t take long to take the skins off, you can do it while the vegetables are frying. It makes a big difference to digestibility, which is a literal pain for some people.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes covered. After the mixture has cooled a little you can puree it. It won’t be best on day one.

Serve alone, with toast or maybe a Middle East bread and with the accompaniments listed in the ingredients.

green sauce for pasta

Parisis restaurant on King William St Hyde Park that makes a green vegetable sauce for pasta.

Spaghetti Verde (vegetarian option) Spaghetti tossed with peas, zucchini, broccoli, spinach, aglio, a splash of white wine and shaved parmesan.

I confess it sounded a bit too vegetarian for me but I tried it nonetheless and was pleasantly surprised. I try to make a habit now of throwing green vegetables together for sauces at home and it really seems like whatever is about will do. I didn’t have white wine, but I did have tuna. I think without a bit of a kick from either of these, or some other substitute, maybe some bacon, it would all be too bland.

Ingredients

  • shallots chopped
  • garlic finely chopped
  • a couple of chillis finely sliced
  • small tin of tuna in oil
  • ghee (or olive oil) for cooking
  • at least one medium zucchini washed and grated – a cup or so as minimum
  • some fresh peas
  • chives chopped
  • spring onion, white chopped and added to the sauce, the green chopped and reserved for serving
  • additional best olive oil for serving
  • grated parmesan

While boiling the water and cooking the spaghetti:

Method

Fry the shallots, garlic and chilli in ghee – I prefer to do the frying in ghee and add olive oil at the end when serving. Better taste. Add the tin of tuna, break up and mix in thoroughly. Then add the various vegetables and herbs.

Mix the cooked spaghetti into the sauce, serve with the spring onion greens scattered on top.