NO MINIMUM SPEND | AUTHENTIC VEGAN CHEESE BY THE EX-DAIRY CHEESEMAKER

Authentic-ish Saag - Sumear's take using Crèmou and Original Sharp Cheese

Saag is glorious. Especially when it is done right. Did you know that if you make saag using only 100% spinach that it is not saag. It is actually Palek which is Urdu for spinach.

Saag does has spinach, but for that richer texture and "bite" it needs other greens which usually consists of Mustard greens.

I can't really get access to Mustard greens so my subsitute is Kale & Rocket to go alongside the spinach :) Works wonders. Still not authentic but still more of a real saag that you see from "influencers" sharing spinach only recipes :P

Disclaimer: I am not a chef. Just a humble home cook. This recipe has not been tested to be foolproof. As a home cook, it is normal to only use a recipe as a guideline. Cook with your gut and change it up to what you have, want and need. Taste test at each stage and always adjust the seasoning & spices to your taste.

WHAT YOU NEED

Pan-Fried Cheese

Saag

  • Stage One
    • Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot (can do without but have not tried it)
    • Stick blender (other blenders will be okay)
    • Kale; approx 150g;
    • Rocket; approx 150g
    • Spinach; 150g
    • Large Onion; 2
    • Red Onion; 1
    • Garlic; 6 cloves
    • Ginger; approx 5cm
    • Baking Soda; pinch
    • Constarch; 2 tbsp
    • Crèmou; 1-2 tbsp
  • Stage Two
    • Large pot
    • Oil
    • Spices & Others
      • Whole
        • Curry leaves; 1 tbsp
        • Black Mustard Seeds; 1 tbsp
        • Cumin Seeds; 3 tsp
        • Garlic; 2 cloves; finely sliced
        • Chillis; finely sliced; I used 4 green "birds eye" or "finger" variety
      • Ground
        • Garam Masala; 3 tsp
        • Coriander; 2 tsp
        • Cardamon; 1 tsp 
        • Asafoetida; 2 tsp
    • Large Onion; 1
    • Spinach; 150g
    • Extra Firm tofu; I used 1 large block. 300g I believe (can't remember ;) )
    • Crèmou; just to garnish

WHAT TO DO

Pan Fried Original Sharp Cheese

  1. Cube up cheese into large chunks. Approx 1-2cm. Not too small.
  2. Heat up a frying pan on medium high heat. Add oil. Only enough to greasy the pan. We are not deep frying here!
  3. When heated, add the cheese and fry till gold brown. Flip and fry again. I preferred to only do top and bottom to seal the cheese and not dry it out too much.
  4. Remove from heat and place all cheese onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to wick away excess oil. Leave to the side and use as a garnish later.

Saag

Stage One

  1. To your pressure cooker/instant pot (you can do this without and just use a pot but I have not done this. Think you will just steam/boil it for 30 mins to help soften the kale); add the kale (remove large stems), rocket, spinach, onions & red onion (quarted), garlic, ginger and baking soda.
  2. Add a splash of water enough to generate steam.
  3. Cook in the pot. I used the "steam" function on my instant pot for 5 mins
  4. Once cooked, release the steam and remove the lid. Add constarch and Crèmou and blend with stick blender (or add to a normal blender and do it that way). The idea is to make a chunky-ish puree. We don't want this to be a liquid as texture is king. Equally we don't want to have a long leave left whole at this stage 

Stage Two

  1. To a large pot, place on medium high heat and add oil to cover the base.
  2. Add the Curry Leaves, Mustard Seeds, and Cumin Seeds and fry when the oil is hot. Don't burn them. You will hear lovely cracking and popping from the seeds. If you don't heat this, it means the oil was not hot enough *cries*. See smoke? Panic. Fry shortly. Read more on this here.
  3. Add in sliced onion and fry till translucent/browned
  4. Add the "ground" spices and cook for a few mins. Add a splash of what to de-glaze if needed. Not too much!
  5. Add Chilli and garlic
  6. Add the Saag/green mixture/puree from Stage One to the pot and cook slowly on a low-ish heat. It will start to thicken. Careful of popping and splutting, it is messy!
  7. Add salt to taste. Add more Garam masala if needed (I really cook randomly and play "by ear". Cook by tasting the dish throughout the process and adjust to your needs).
  8. Add the remaining 150g of spinach. Allow to wilt. After a while if you spinach leaves are too chunky, use a stick blender to break it up a bit. Your choice. Cook further for min 10-15 mins slowly
  9. Before nearing to serve, add cubed Tofu (lightly pan fry first before adding if you want. I did.). Cook for a few mins

Serving

  1. Plate up the saag to your fav dish
  2. Add some pan-fried cheese from earlier
  3. Add dollops of Crèmou for more creaminess OR Soured Cream for a more tangy finish
  4. Enjoy with roti, naan, pitta, rice, whatever!