Beef Saag

This dish can be made with beef, lamb, or goat. It is my families favorite dish.

Saag Gosht (Beef in Fragrant Spinach Sauce)

Recipe By : Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni ISBN 0-688-03721-6
Serving Size : 8 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Indian Meats

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
3 cups cooked spinach
6 tablespoons light vegetable oil
3 pounds boneless beef round or lamb — cut in 1 1/2″ pieces
3 1/2 cups onions — thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic — finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh ginger root — finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium ripe tomato — finely chopped
3 green chiles — minced
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 cinnamon stick — broken small pieces
6 black (or 12 green) cardamom pods
9 whole cloves
3 bay leaves — crumbled
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons garam masala
2 tablespoons light vegetable oil — if needed

Spinach is used extensively in India, where it’s inexpensive and available year
round. But the main reason for its prevalence in Indian cooking is that it can be utilized in so many marvelous ways–for instance, as a sauce. Spinach is a mild green. If it is cooked with a meat that contains a lot of spices, its flavor is likely to get lost, and its lovely bright green color with it. To be sure that the spinach will hold its own in this dish, you must cook it separately and fold it into the meat just before serving.

This beautiful dish — another variation of the Moghul rulers’ fine cooking —
is based on the use of different greens. You can substitute kale, collard, or mustard greens, or combine any of these with the spinach.

Cook 3 cups spinach and drain. Finely puree the spinach, using a food processor or electric blender, or mince it with a knife on a chopping board. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat until very hot. Pat the meat dry on paper towels (or it will not brown), and add. Brown the meat, turning and tossing the pieces,until nicely seared on all sides. (This is best done in batches so that the frying pan is not overcrowded. As each batch is browned, transfer to a heavy-bottomed casserole.) – Dutch Oven!!

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil to the frying pan, and add onions. Reduce heat to medium-high, and fry until they turn caramel brown (about 25 minutes), stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add garlic and ginger, and fry for an additional 2 minutes. Add cumin, tomatoes and chiles, and continue frying until the tomato is cooked and the entire mixture is turned into a thick pulpy paste (about 3 minutes). Add yogurt and immediately turn off the heat. When slightly
cool, puree in an electric blender or food processor, and add to the meat in the casserole.

Place a double layer of cheesecloth, about 6 inches square, on the work surface. Put cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves in the center, bring up the four corners of the cheesecloth to wrap the spices, and tie them to form a bag. Crush the bag slightly with a wooden mallet or any heavy tool to break up the spices. Add the spice bag to the casserole.

Add 4 cups of boiling water along with the salt, and stir to distribute the meat into the sauce.

Place a piece of aluminum foil on top of the casserole, and cover tightly with
the lid. Bring the contents to a boil on top of the stove.

Place the casserole in the middle level of the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Or alternatively, it may be cooked on top of the stove over low heat for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.

Remove the casserole from the oven or turn off the stove, and take off the lid.
Remove the spice bag, and squeeze hard to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the bag. Add the cooked spinach and garam masala, and blend well, being careful not to break the fragile meat pieces. Cover the pot, return it to the oven or stove, and cook for 5 minutes more. Turn off the oven, and let the pot remain undisturbed for an additional 10 minutes. Check for salt, and if the sauce lacks
adequate glaze, stir in a few tablespoons of oil. Serve.

Note: This dish, just like another braised dish, tastes better with keeping. It
is particularly good if made a few hours in advance, and allowed to rest at room temperature before being reheated and served. This dish keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, and also freezes well.

Defrost thoroughly before reheating. To reheat, gently simmer over low heat until warmed through. Before serving, taste for salt, and if necessary, fold in a little garam masala.

Serve with Pilaf or simple plain cooked rice.


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