A couple of months back, I was faced with the somewhat daunting task of contributing a dish to an Indian friend’s Indian feast. My assignment was a version of saag and my hostess was both encouraging and forgiving–already knowing that whatever dish I’d come up with would be a mere interpretation of the many authentic saags she had eaten before. For those who don’t know, “saag” is a classic Indian leaf-based dish, usually spinach, somewhat akin to our creamed spinach.
Having a couple of ears of fresh corn on hand, I decided that my saag would include kernels and the search for a perfect recipe ensued. Google led me to a selection of recipes that looked fine but were not singing to me. My “go to” Indian cookbook failed to deliver. It was then that I searched for some current Indian food blogs and happened to land upon Mallika Basu.
Mallika’s blog features modern, accessible Indian cooking–just my speed. I tweaked her recipe for Perfect Saag Paneer a bit (to replace the paneer (cheese) with corn) and the results we unanimously enjoyed by Indians and non-Indians, alike. I’ve since made this recipe several times and thought it would be a good time to share. If fresh corn is no longer available in your area, feel free to substitute frozen. And if you are looking for a complete meal, serve this dish alongside my Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala. Enjoy!
- 2 ears of corn, husks and silks removed (or 1 1/2 c frozen corn)
- 2 Tbls oil
- 1 medium onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 inch ginger, puree
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- Half tsp chili powder
- Half tsp turmeric powder
- 1 large green finger chill (I use a small hot red chili or seeded jalapeño)
- 1 lb bag frozen spinach
- Half tsp garam masala
- Salt to taste
- Naan for serving, if desired
- Cook corn in a pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from water and when cool enough to handle, cut kernels from the cobs and set aside. Note: If using frozen corn, skip this step.
- Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, minced garlic and ginger puree. Saute until the onion is translucent.
- Add cumin, chili powder, turmeric, chopped chili and a teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine and fry for about five minutes until the mixture turns a deep golden brown.
- Next, add the frozen spinach and let it cook for another five minutes. When it is thoroughly defrosted in the pot and combined evenly with the onion mixture, add half a cup of hot water and go in with a hand blender to puree into a smooth, creamy mixture. If mixture is too thick, you may want to add an extra 1/4 c of water to get the right consistency.
- Note: If you don’t have a hand blender, you could transfer the spinach into a normal blender for the same result. Return to the pan once smooth.
- When the spinach mixture is smooth, add in the corn kernels and garam masala.
- Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the water dries up and the spices have penetrated the spinach thoroughly.
- At this point, check for salt. You’ll need to add a fair bit to lift the spinach.
- Eat it piping hot as a side dish or with some ready naan as a complete meal.
- Recipe can easily be doubled.