One of my favorite popular dishes in Indian cuisine is Saag, a leaf-based side commonly served with bread or rice. Years ago, I found myself ordering it in local restaurants, often for a steep price, and wondering how to recreate this dish at home. It’s been a staple in the house ever since, and I even included a popular variation, Saag Paneer (served with homemade, pan-fried cheese), in The Ancestral Table.
While I love Saag Paneer, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with making your own cheese, it is pretty time consuming. Lately, I often stick with a simple version of Saag, which is basically just the greens with some basic spices. Additionally, my friends at Primal Palate recently added Garam Masala to their collection of spices, so it felt like to perfect time to post my Simple Saag recipe.
This dish uses a combination of tender greens (spinach) and hardier greens (collard greens, mustard greens, or kale). When preparing the hardier greens, I will typically chop them with stems included up until I get to the part of the stalk that doesn’t include leaves; I then discard the remaining stalks (or save them for pesto).
Simple Saag (Gluten-free, Perfect Health Diet, Paleo, Primal, Whole30)
3 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 jalapeño pepper or other chile pepper, diced
1 cup water
1 lb spinach, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 lb collard greens, mustard greens, or kale, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt, more to taste
1. In a deep skillet or dutch oven, heat the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and jalapeño and sauté until the seeds start to brown, about 30 seconds. Add the water and enough spinach and greens to fill the skillet, then stir to coat with the ghee. As the spinach and greens wilt, stir in more until you’ve got them all in the skillet. Stir in the garlic, ginger, garam masala, and salt.
2. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until dark green and tender, about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Remove the cover and increase heat to medium; simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, and the greens take on a buttery texture, about 5-10 minutes, stirring often. Taste and add salt if needed, then serve.