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A blog about cooking and food, and how to make it taste good and be healthy. The dishes are almost all gluten/dairy free, and many are vegetarian. The focus is on techniques and ingredients over recipes - this is about everyday cooking, and that means making it work with whats on hand!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chicken Saag with Corn Roti

 I've been getting so much food through my CSA that I've been giving some of it away every week. Some mustard greens ended up making it to my friend Ricky who used it to make chicken saag, an Indian dish made with pureed spinach or mustard greens. The next week I got more mustard greens, and decided to make some myself. Saag can be plain or made with meat, chickpeas or paneer (cheese).

In addition to the mustard greens, I had some beet greens that I used. The beets, turnips, and radishes all come with the greens attached, and I try to use them as quickly as possible to get them at peak freshness. A potful of fresh greens will cook down to a thin layer at the bottom of the pot, so 
With Indian food, the first level of flavor comes from toasting whole seeds in a dry pan.  I used fenugreek, cumin, and mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds started popping, I added oil and leeks. I would usually use onions, but I had leeks from the CSA. After the leeks had softened, I added simple spices to make the masala paste: cumin, corriander, tumeric, salt. I omitted the stronger tastes of garam masala to let the flavor of the greens come through more. Once the paste had fried up a bit, I added the chopped greens and a bit of vegetable broth, and let the greens simmer.
When the greens were tender, I removed them from the pan and put them in a food processer. I tried not to blend them for too long, going for more of a "finely chopped" consistency than "liquified".
I used the same pan to cook cubed chicken, then added the greens back.
While the saag was cooking, I made corn (makka) rotis. Roti is Indian flatbread, and a staple of the diet. It is usually made with wheat flour, but I can't eat wheat, so I used corn flour. This is not unheard of in India, but is not common. The one time I had it, it was made by a chef hired to cook for house guests at a wedding who found out I couldn't eat regular rotis. The dough is simply corn flour, salt, and a little oil with water added until a Play-Do like consistency is reached.

Rotis are generally rolled flat and round, but I don't have a rolling pin, and the corn dough is hard to work with, so I hand-formed the rotis. They are simply fried in a skillet, and flipped when the first side is done. Adding a little oil to the uncooked side before the flip helps it cook up a little crispier.

The end result was delicious - the saag was thick, rich, and creamy and was complimented well by the crunchy rotis.

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