Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Let me start this post with 3 confessions:
  1. I don't know jack - Jitendara? - about Indian food, other than that it's delicious.
  2. I don't know diddly about babies.
  3. I can't stand low-carb diets.
Ironically, I've made Indian food twice this week, am 7 months pregnant, and am on a low-carb diet due to gestational diabetes.

Life is weird that way.

Friends of mine had a baby boy last month.  They've been incredibly kind and supportive as I've progressed through my own pregnancy, so I offered to take them dinner and a gift for the baby.  They gladly accepted.  Then the wife drops this bomb: she's allergic to tomatoes.

I started going through my mental recipe repertoire & excluding the things that have tomatoes in them.  Crap, that's like everything that I make this time of year.  Chili, pot roast, many soups... all out.  And because I can only have very limited amounts of carbs, no pastas either.

I remembered having seen a Veena's Market saag spice packet in my cupboard.  I bought a few of them last year around Christmas and this was the last package.  I called my friends and asked if they like Indian food and, if so, could she eat spicy food while breastfeeding.  The answer to both questions was a resounding "yes".  Saag it was!

What, exactly, is "saag"?  According to this website:

Saag, or palak, dishes are spiced purees of spinach or other greens common in northern India. They often contain additional ingredients such as potatos, fresh cheese, chicken or chickpeas to make a more substantial dish.
Gene, who doesn't like cooked spinach, loves this dish.  If you're not a cooked spinach fan, try this recipe once before dismissing it.

I wanted to make my saag with chicken.  I started out with cutting up 2 chicken breasts and cooking them in oil.  Then I just put them aside while I made the spinach puree.

Veena's instructions are to saute the spices in oil, then add chopped onions.  You have to be very careful about this because it's shockingly easy to burn the spices and ruin your dish.  Her packets are numbered for you.  (BTW, Veena is a friend of mine but I bought these packets.)

Next, you add the spinach and let it wilt - this takes about a minute.  Don't be shy about how much spinach you're using; it will reduce significantly.

From there, you put the spinach into a blender with some water and puree it.  Return it to the saucepan with the chicken to reheat, salt to your taste, and stir in a dollop of plain yogurt.  Serve the saag over rice or...

... can you guess what this is?  It's not rice.  Nor is it couscous.

This, my friends, is cauliflower!  Run raw cauliflower through a food processor until it looks like couscous.  Out it into a microwave-safe bowl and cook without water until it's done, perhaps 3-4 minutes.  Voila: low-carb rice alternative.

Because I was travelling with this dish, I simply layered the ingredients in a covered Pyrex dish and reheated it once I arrived at my friends' house.

They asked to keep the leftovers. 

As for the gift for their son, a little pair of light green merino wool booties, I completely forgot to take pictures!  The booties fit him perfectly and both parents were appreciative.  They've promised pictures, which I'll post upon receipt.

I still have so much to learn about babies.  The first time I held my friends' new son I experienced a panicked feeling of "ok, now what do I do with this little guy?".  I haven't changed a diaper since the early 1990s, if then.  I just bought some nursing bras and laughed at the sight of my boobs in holsters.  Gene, who has children from his first marriage, looks at my boobs & apologizes "for what's going to happen to them in the next few months".  Yikes.

I'll figure it out.


  1. YUM!!! I love saag, although I prefer the vegetarian prep. Thanks for the tutorial and pics, stay well mama!

  2. This is Tom! There is an Indian restaurant across the street form my Munich office and I go there with people I work with about once a week for lunch. Almost every time my choice is chicken palak because it is so yummie - and that's because of the palak-spinach more than the chicken.

  3. Hi Jenn! I can't find your contact email- but wanted to let you know that you won the copy of The Urban Farm Handbook! Email me at growandresistATgmailDOTcom and i'll get your info on to the publishers!