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Saag Kuala Lumpur
by Oppileea Simon
adapted to California
2 to 4 pounds standard chard, leafy
part only (stems removed) or
enough to fill a huge pot when
6-10 big cloves of freshest garlic
4-10 pinky-finger size hot
green chillies, seeds removed
3 medium tomatoes
3 bunches green onions
1 & 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1/3 lb no-nitrate bacon, or pork
salt to taste, just before serving
This dish is a concentration of greens and flavorsome additions. It is a staple throughout India, eaten almost daily, with dahl (a type of colorful lentil) and rice or chapatis. Preparing the saag gives people lots to do in the kitchen together. The huge amount of greens you begin with turns into about 2 cups of nutritious saag.
Wash chard well and take stems off. Either cut them out, or just strip the leaves off of the stems. Stems can go in a crock pot to make stock, adding trimmings from everything else as well. Do not dry or spin the chard. Dice the chard very small, about 1/2 inch pieces. I like to roll a lot of leaves together into a wad, slice off the wad in 1/2 inch slices, turn 90 degrees, and slice again. There should be enough to fill a very high pot, in which the chard and other stuff simmers in its own water (no added water).
Mince the chillies, garlic, and ginger. If you've never handled these chillies before, they will make your fingernails burn, and you do not want to touch your eyes after handling them. But they never raise a blister or harm you ~ you just feel the effects! Cut green onions in 1/4 inch slices, using quite a bit of the green part as well. Cut tomatoes in about 1 inch pieces. Cut the bacon or pork into 1/2 inch pieces. If using bacon, heat it first just enough to melt off some of the fat; discard it or use elsewhere. I mix all these things together in a bowl, but you may want to keep them separate.
In the tall pot, layer the chard, the chopped things, and generous sprinklings of curry powder and turmeric, making several layers. Begin simmering on low heat in its own juices. Add the tiniest bit of water if anything seems to be burning. Only add this water at the very first. After that, it should simmer in its own liquid. Cover at first to heat everything through, then simmer uncovered for an hour or more, stirring infrequently, until everything is reduced to a very soft mash. Add salt only if it needs it, after tasting at the end. (Whew! That recipe was hard to write without drooling!)
In K.L., the greens used for saag are called "saui" which is called there "spinach" but is actually a type of mustard green. Saui consists of small, roundish leaves. There's the kind with white flowers, and the other kind with yellow flowers. Saag is made with the white-flower kind of saui. In California, using small-leaved spinach for saag is an unknown proposition. I don't know what oxylates might do, and spinach is high in them. This dish concentrates a very large amount of greens, so you'd be getting a very large dose of oxylates using California spinach for saag. Chard is quite low in oxylates, according to one source I read. Indian restaurants here use the big, standard "mustard greens" for saag, quite different from the saag usually made in Kuala Lumpur.
by Oppileea Simon
adapted to California
3/4 cup yellow (channa) dahl
4 cups or more of water
2 large cloves freshest garlic
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
4 tablespoons curry powder
2-3 pieces of tamarind
3 potatoes cut in quarters or sixths
several whole okra,
fresh best, frozen ok
3 tomatoes cut in quarters
1/2 cup fresh, canned or
frozen coconut milk
Wash the dahl and begin boiling it in the water. Fry the garlic and onion in good oil til starting to brown, and add to dahl. Dry-fry the mustard seeds just til they start to pop, and add. Heat some good oil (olive oil perhaps the best) and fry the curry powder for a few seconds, not too hot, and add. Make 1/2 cup tamarind juice by mushing 2-3 pieces of tamarind in water; strain and add. Add more boiling water if it gets too thick. It should be quite soupy as it's boiling (it will thicken up when off the stove).
When dahl is just getting soft (not mushy), add the potatoes, cook a bit longer, and add the okra. Taste for salt, and add about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste. Add the tomatoes 5 minutes before serving, when dahl has become soft but (hopefully) before it becomes too mushy. After turning off flame, add the coconut milk. If you have access to fresh ground coconut (UNsweetened!!), that makes the very best coconut milk. Use about 2 cups of fresh coconut, soak in water for half an hour, then mushed with the hands for some time until the milk is rich. Strain and use.
In the final dish, the dahl beans should still be somewhat distinct, but starting to disintegrate. If they're crunchy, they're not finished cooking. Never mind, though, if mushy ~ it will still be delicious and nutritious. Grains and beans naturally complement each other in both the B vitamin array as well as the amino acid profile. Together, the amino acids of grains and beans makes protein of equal nutritiousness to animal proteins. So, dahl goes naturally with whole-grain rice or 100% whole wheat chapatis, to create a vibrantly healthy meal. Accompanied by saag, you're eating better than anyone on Earth.
Simple Turmeric Chicken ~~ DA BEST!
3 TB soy sauce
3 TB olive oil
2 large cloves freshest garlic
1 chicken, about 4 lb
4 TB turmeric
Mix the soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic (minced) in a bowl. Rinse the chicken well, dry it, and cut up into 2 breasts, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and the back cut in half. Put the turmeric in a large plastic bag with NO holes, then put in the chicken, twist the bag closed but leave lots of air in it, and shake the chicken to coat it with turmeric. Do this over the sink, in case turmeric spills. Remove from bag, and roll the chicken in the soy sauce/olive oil mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, remove the breasts, and continue baking for another 30 minutes.
There's nothing to say. This is simply the most delicious chicken in the world. You can also do this with just chicken wings, making a very tasty hors d'oeuvre.
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English to Metric
1 Cup (C)
= c. 250 ml
1 tablespoon (TB)
= c. 15 ml
1 teaspoon (tsp)
= c. 5 ml
1 quart (qt)
= c. 1 liter
1 pound (lb)
= c. 1/2 kg
1 ounce (oz)
= c. 30 g
300 deg. F
= c. 150 deg. C
350 deg. F
= c. 175 deg. C
400 deg. F
= c. 200 deg. C
Curry: as used in India, this simply means "sauce"; Indian foods made with sauces are thus all "curries"
Curry Powder: a readily-available blend of spices which is a Western approximation of Indian spice blends, and typically contains turmeric, coriander, chillies, cumin, mustard, ginger, fenugreek, garlic, cloves, salt, and any number of other spices
Masala: In India and her neighbors, a blend of powdered spices, of a specific type for a specific type of dish; said to be about 100 kinds of masalas in Indian cooking
Garam masala: A readily-available masala composed of delicate, heat-sensitive spices; thus, it is added at the end of cooking, after the flame has been turned off (see left)
Curcumin: Confusion exists in present usage of this word; Curcumin is the name for turmeric in many countries; however, expensive products called "Curcumin" are now being sold with the vitamins at health food outlets, and research on curcumin abounds in current medical literature. Some say that curcumin is the yellow oils that give turmeric its yellow color, and which are also used as both food coloring and textile dyeing. Others call these yellow oils "curcuminoids" or "curcumin extract." Curcumin has nothing to do with "Cumin" spice (see below). See the
Curcuminoids: Chemicals in turmeric that are being studied for their physiological effects; one group of curcuminoids comprises a potent yellow-orange volatile oil (see Curcumin Extract below); this oil contains three compounds called turmerone, atlantone, and zingiberone, among other substances
Curcumin Extract: The term used by Indian pharmacists to denote the potent and expensive yellow-orange oil which is the dye substance extracted from turmeric, used both for food coloring and for textile dye; has been used for centuries in India
Curry Leaves: A plant with small, dark green leaves (about 1 inch long) that give a mild flavor to Indian food; usually used fresh, not dried; they are sometimes included in Curry Powder, but do not give Curry Powder its name
Cumin: A small, warm-climate annual plant of which the seeds are used; often mistranslated as "caraway" in curry recipes due to similarity of the Indian words for both cumin and caraway, jeera, as well as nearly-identical appearance of the seeds; assume that "caraway" means "cumin" in curry recipes; "Cumin" has nothing to do with "Curcumin" (see above)
Chilli: Red chillies, also called Red Pepper or Cayenne Pepper in America
Chilli Powder: In Asia/Europe, the powder of pure red chillies -- this would be called Red Pepper or Cayenne Pepper in America; American "Chilli Powder" is a very different blend of spices, including cumin and with very little red chilli in it, used in Chili con carne, barbecue and "Texas" style cooking
Haldi or Haldie: The Indian name for Turmeric
Turmeric: A plant of which the root resembles ginger, and is used extensively in India, which produces almost the whole world's supply, as well as consumes 80% of that supply; botanical name is curcuma longa; is native to Southeast Asia, from Vietnam to the humid hilly regions of Southern India; Indian name Haldi