The word ‘Saag’ in Hindi means spinach or any leafy vegetable. In that sense, other than spinach one can easily use alternate green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage leafs or Swiss chard. The real twist in taste however comes when you use spinach (or palaak) with lamb. Spinach is a wonderful source of vitamin A, C and Folate. If you are an ardent fan of soul food you would easily identify with saag and meat recipes because this is one of the staple dishes available in the southern states. Palaak or spinach is widely used in Indian and other cuisines across the world. Here is an excellent online course which gives step by step instructions on how to conjure up some delectable Indian vegetarian dishes using spinach.
There are several different varieties of lamb saag recipes. Here is a list of a few of those and the procedure to prepare them.
Lamb Saagwala (Lamb with fresh Spinach) Twist 1
What You Will Need:
About a kilo of lamb meat chopped into uniform pieces
About 4-5 medium sized tomatoes chopped properly
A little quantity of ghee or you can also take any other cooking oil of your preference. Virgin olive oil tends to have a smell of its own and thus this Indian style dish would be better off with other oils.
Ginger paste – about one teaspoon
Large sized onions finely chopped about 2 of them.
1 tablespoon of the Indian magic masala or garam masala (constituting of black pepper, black cumin, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon)
Coriander leaves for garnishing
Red chili powder – about one teaspoon (you can use just a pinch of tabasco sauce as an alternative)
One tablespoon coriander powder
One large garlic – chopped and then blended with water to a fine paste
Cumin powder – about one tablespoon
1/4th cup of lemon juice
Freshly chopped spinach leaves – about 300 grams of it
Couple of green chilies (depending on preference you can add more, some people may prefer to skip this altogether)
About two tablespoon of yoghurt
The Cooking Process
At the beginning put all the spinach leaves (after separating them from the big stem), green chilies, coriander into a blender. Sprinkle the lemon juice on top of it. Pour some water. Now blend the whole mix into thick paste. Put this away for use in the later stages of cooking.
Heat some cooking oil (or ghee if you have preferred that) in it. Pour the chopped onions into them and stir fry them until they are golden brown. Pour the ginger and garlic paste into it, stir and allow it to simmer for another minute or so. Now add the coriander powder, all of the cumin powder and the red chili powder. Mix the ingredients properly. After stirring for a while pour the tomatoes into the mix. Finally, add the lamb chops. Depending on the heat at which you are cooking and the quality of the meat it may take about 30-40 minutes for the chops to properly cook. At one point depending on the water already in the mix you may have to add a bit more into it.
Now is the turn for the spinach to go into the equation. Add the mix that was made at the start of the process. Stir it well so that the two major ingredients, the meat and the spinach mix properly and a uniform color is attained. Leave the heat on for another 3-4 minutes and then turn it off. Now, there are two different schools of opinion as to how to finish the process. One School prefers to add the garam masala during the mixing of the spinach and the meat and the other school prefers to add it just before turning the fire off, pouring the yoghurt and the final stir. Choose according to your preference. Before serving sprinkle with coriander leaves to garnish.
Lamb saagwala is usually enjoyed with roti or nun but some communities in India also like it with boiled or steamed rice and other side dishes.
Saagwala Lamb – Twist 2
One method of preparing a lamb with saag dish is to not overcook the spinach. This can be achieved by putting it in to the pot at the very last and just stirring it with the lamb before taking the pot off the fire. This ensures that the fresh spinach remains raw and you can get the taste of the leaves separately with the meat. Slightly cooked spinach would have more nutritional value than eating it raw. This is because when spinach is heated it reduces oxalate thus freeing much of the calcium. Thus, the following recipe is better than eating spinach raw as part of a green salad. Read more about the nutritional values of spinach here.
This process many of the same items as has been mentioned above. Just to avoid confusion the list of required ingredients are –
Ghee about two tablespoons (speaking of ghee, this resource gives a great step by step guidance on how to make ghee at home)
About two kilos of lamb meat chopped into broad square pieces
Cumin powder – 1 tablespoon
2 onions sliced into thin pieces
Coconut milk about 1/4th cup
Juice of ½ a lemon
Garlic cloves – about two of them, grated
Ginger about 2-3 tablespoon
Turmeric powder about 1 teaspoon
Chopped tomatoes about ½ cup made into a thick paste in the blender
A bunch of fresh spinach, chopped and ready to use
Salt to taste
The Preparation Process
Start by seasoning the lamb chops with salt. Start a fire and put some ghee in a pot and heat it up. Pour the lamb chops one at a time and place them separated from each other as possible. Let it simmer. Turn them over after a while to ensure that the meat is uniformly brown on all sides. Once the color has completely changed to brownish remove them from the pot and pour the chopped onions into it. Stir fry them for a few minutes until the color changes to golden brown.
Now is the time to add some of the masala into the equation. Add ginger, coriander, garlic, turmeric and cumin. Keep steering until the mixture becomes uniform. Next step is to pour in the tomatoes. Stir and then pour coconut milk to the equation to add the much needed liquid to the mixture. Keep cooking for a few minutes more. Now is the turn of the lamb chops to go back into the pot. Place them uniformly and then pour water to cover the whole thing about halfway to the pot. Allow the whole thing to cook for a while. When the water comes to a boil, add a bit of salt, stir and then cover with a lid to simmer for an hour and a half. In between, check for the meat and how tender it has become and adjust the cooking time accordingly. When ready you can test with a spoon and the meat will come off the bones when gently you press it.
Now is the closing steps. Bring out the chopped spinach leaves. Sprinkle them over the cooking pot and stir it for a few minutes. You will notice that the spinach will become softer. Stir well so that the spinach is mixed with the meat properly. Before you put out the fire add a dash of lemon to the dish and check for salt.
After you have mastered the Lamb Saaf, we recommend you open up your world of Indian culinary delights and learn a few more recipes.