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Saag in northern India can be made with Spinach or Mustard greens.

In Kashmir they make it with Haak.  I wish I knew what Haak is in English.. when it comes to my mind.. I will write it.  I know it is available in groceries here.

In Bengal the word Saag has yet another meaning... I am told it could be the generic word for vegetables.

Maybe Simon or our other Bengali members can help us here.

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The best saag dish I've ever eaten was in an Indian restaurant in Phuket,Thailand where the spinach had been cooked right down with mustard leaves,mint leaves and lots of garlic and chilli before being pureed with a little yogurt into a smooth,emerald green pool and served with cornbread rotis.Yum!

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So Tonyfinch it seems like you had Makke Kee Roti and Sarson Kaa Saag (Flatbreads made with cornmeal and Mustard greens)

It is a typical Punjabi dish.  In fact it is very famous and one of the most sought after Punjabi dishes.  

Mustard greens are in season in the winter and in Punjab they make them with butter and few spices.  The end result is a very creamy and tasty green puree that is eaten with Makke Kee Roti.

Some families, like mine, add a little spinach to the mustard greens, some fenugreek leaves and green chilies.  I have never heard of mint, but that sounds great.

What restaurant was it in Phuket?

When I was flying from Singapore to India, I had a Sikh man sitting next to me. He owned an Indian restaurant in Phuket I believe.  And he had told me his was one of the oldest and most famous ones.  

We traded e-mails and in fact he sent me mail just a few days back.  I was amazed seeing this man.  He is third generation Thai.  That entire region is fascinating.  It is hard to keep track with how quickly demographics change when it comes to the ethnicities of the peoples of that area.

Another thing about Makee Kee Roti, we eat it with a lot of white butter.  Sweet butter smeared on top.  Cornmeal has a way of absorbing a lot of butter.  And it also makes the bread easier to digest.  Corn meal can dry the insides of the stomach.  The extra butter helps to make sure there is enough grease on the grains.

Some would call Sarson Kaa Saag one of the most important Punjabi vegetarian dishes.  

Thanks Tonyfinch for sharing this with us.

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I didn't know that saag could be made with mustard greens. Lovely.

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Sarong-ka-saag, has no spinach that I know of (but then what do I know, eh?). This with makai-ki-roti was what you had in winter months for lunch -- never for dinner that I know of, but then, we were visitors to up north relatives coming from Mumbai during holidays.

I anyone of you'll find a place in NYC, within walking distance of public transport; and serves this let moi know :)

anil

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Eric Asimov found a place called Eat Again Deli in Chelsea that serves Sarson Kaa Saag and Makai Kee Roti.

Correct never eaten at dinner.  Too heavy.

Correct also about Sarson kaa Saag being all mustard greens.

But exceptions are frequently made.

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Lullyloo,

Eat Again Deli

164 9th Ave. (Between 20th St. & 21st St.)

It is a Deli that serves Indian food as well.  Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cabbies stop here to eat between fares.

It is diagonally opposite from Le Bergamot, the lovely French Pastry Shop.  

After your Indian meal, you can stop by Le Bergamot and get a Financier (sp?).  They make them very well.

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  • 1 year later...

Can someone please explain what the difference is, if any, between saag and sak, other than spelling?

This is one of my absolutely favorite Indian dishes, whether it's made with spinach, mustard greens or other leafy green vegetables. It's even better with the addition of paneer. I like my paneer as small dice, not these huge hunks of paneer that you sometimes see in many renditions of saag paneer.

Soba

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Saag in northern India can be made with Spinach or Mustard greens.

In Kashmir they make it with Haak.  I wish I knew what Haak is in English.. when it comes to my mind.. I will write it.  I know it is available in groceries here.

According to Madhur Jaffrey's "Vegetarian Cooking", Haak is collard greens. Oh, I bet that's good with paneer...

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Can someone please explain what the difference is, if any, between saag and sak, other than spelling?

This is one of my absolutely favorite Indian dishes, whether it's made with spinach, mustard greens or other leafy green vegetables. It's even better with the addition of paneer. I like my paneer as small dice, not these huge hunks of paneer that you sometimes see in many renditions of saag paneer.

Soba

Saag is greens, can be spinach, mustard, collard, kale etc.

Palak is more specific, being spinach.

Palak paneer and saag paneer are the same thing i.e spinach with Indian Cottage cheese. When you say saag paneer it is presumed that it is spinach. I have not come accross mustard greens with cottage cheese though.

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Can someone please explain what the difference is, if any, between saag and sak, other than spelling?

This is one of my absolutely favorite Indian dishes, whether it's made with spinach, mustard greens or other leafy green vegetables.  It's even better with the addition of paneer.  I like my paneer as small dice, not these huge hunks of paneer that you sometimes see in many renditions of saag paneer.

Soba

Saag is greens, can be spinach, mustard, collard, kale etc.

Palak is more specific, being spinach.

Palak paneer and saag paneer are the same thing i.e spinach with Indian Cottage cheese. When you say saag paneer it is presumed that it is spinach. I have not come accross mustard greens with cottage cheese though.

well, there's the punjabi sarson ka saag, which is specifically a dish made with mustard greens. but if bhasin hasn't encounterd mustard saag paneer very few people are likely to have. it is his "people" who would make an eat it if it existed.

a lot of this confusion in the u.s is propogated by indian restarateurs (sp.): i think they feel embarassed about having too many dishes with similar ingredients on the menu so make up fancy names and descriptions for all of them. see also, in this connection, the random use of the word "chicken" in some dish names and "murgh" in others. apparently the chicken in one dish went to an english-medium school while the other did not.

by the way, episure, bengalis use the word "shaak" too. in addition to spinach and mustard greens we also eat something called "pui-shaak"--what this is bong will have to tell us.

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It's just that I saw a recipe for spinach sak in a Vedic vegetarian cookbook, so I thought that it shared some similarity to saag paneer.

Wasn't sure, so thought I'd ask.

I have had sarson ka saag and rarely find it as noteworthy as a well made saag paneer.

Soba

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It's just that I saw a recipe for spinach sak in a Vedic vegetarian cookbook, so I thought that it shared some similarity to saag paneer.

Wasn't sure, so thought I'd ask.

I have had sarson ka saag and rarely find it as noteworthy as a well made saag paneer.

Soba

i'd be very surprised if it was possible to eat a good sarson ka saag outside of punjab or at least a punjabi home.

and personally i don't like saag paneers as the average restaurant in north-america makes them--way too much cream and masala. the best saag paneers in my opinon are the ones that bring out the pure flavor of spinach (where spinach is the dominant saag in the dish), and of course fresh paneer is a must. there is a hole in the wall place in l.a (india sweet house, on pico just west of fairfax) that makes what i think is the best commercial saag paneer in north america.

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there is a hole in the wall place in l.a (india sweet house, on pico just west of fairfax) that makes what i think is the best commercial saag paneer in north america.

India Sweet House seems too far away from NYC. Is there a good recipe for saag paneer?

Ammini Ramachandran

www.Peppertrail.com

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by the way, episure, bengalis use the word "shaak" too. in addition to spinach and mustard greens we also eat something called "pui-shaak"--what this is bong will have to tell  us.

Indeed.

Here is a brief bengali primer on Shaaks.

In Bengali -- "Shaak" is a generic term for greens. By default, it means spinach. If referring to spinach specifically, you say "Palong Shaak".

saanchoy.jpg

Picture of "Pui Shaak", picture lifted from www.foodsubs.com

"Pui Shaak" (pronounced with a nasal p), my favorite, is commonly available in our local Chinese Grocery stores here in California. This shaak has a slimy texture (like okra) to it when cooked. They are called "Vietnamese Spinach". Synonyms: "Malabar Spinach", "Ceylon Spinach", "Saan Choy", "Slippery Vegetable", "Alogbati", "Mong Tou".

When I lived in Kolkata, we used to grow this on our rooftop. Very easy to grow as long as it has plenty of water.

amaranth.jpg

Picture of "Notey Shaak"

"Notey Shaak" is another of my favorites. When cooked, it will turn a dark red. It is rumored to be available here in California, but I am yet to find it. Synonyms are "Amaranth", "Chinese Spinach", "Hiyu", "hon-toi-noi", "yin choy", "een choy", "hsien tsai".

I found this list of synonyms at http://www.foodsubs.com/Greenckg.html

There is also "Kumro Shaak" (literally means Pumpkin Greens), this is a favorite of mine. Luckily, this is also available while in season, from the farmers' markets here in San Francisco Bay Area.

Then there is "Methi Shaak", I presume this is the leaves from a methi plant. Not a particular favorite of mine.

There are many other saaks, too many to list here.

The simplest way of cooking a shaak Bengali style is to do a "Shaak Bhaja" (literally, "Fried Greens"). Heat some oil, add some whole spices (i.e. "Kalonji", or sometimes, "Paanch Phoron") and a couple of dried red chiles. Add chopped up greens and salt. In a few minutes, you are done. Have this Shaak Bhaja as an accompaniment to Dal and Rice, or simply with Rice and Kashundi (bengali style mustard paste).

A popular way of cooking "Kumro Shaak" is to sirfry it with poppy seeds added to it.

You can add various other different things to a Shaak stir fry, like tiny shrimp, tiny fish ( you can probably improvise with small sardines) , or small diced potatoes or diced pumpkin. Or Bori (the dried lentil paste balls).

One of the weirdest "Shaaks" of all is "Kochu Shaak". Kochu is called "Taro" over here, and "Kochu Shaak" literally means "Taro Greens". However, the Kochu Shaak is actually made from the stalk of Taro, not actually from the leaves. The stalks have to be first boiled for a long time until they are totally soft and mushy. Then it is mashed up, then stirfried, and then some boiled chick-peas added to it towards the end.

Did I mention "Kochu shaak" is also a favorite of mine?

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My favorite shak is prepared the Bengali way. I first learned to prepare it in the home of friend who had learned it from his mother. I have since tasted and made many different versions. It is made with spinach and potatoes.

The potatoes are first fried in a little mustard oil until light brown. Then they are removed from the pan and either panch phoran and a dried red chili are fried in the oil or kalonji with fresh green chilies is fried. Then a pinch of turmeric and a little sugar is stirred in before adding the spinach, potatoes, a little water and some salt. It is then cooked until the potatoes are tender and the water evaporates. Sometimes this also gets little fried bits of moong bori (sun-dried lentil nuggets). I love it. I suppose this is called "palong shaaker ghanto", no?

Edited by Edward (log)

Edward Hamann

Cooking Teacher

Indian Cooking

edhamann@hotmail.com

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My favorite shak is prepared the Bengali way. I first learned to prepare it in the home of friend who had learned it from his mother. I have since tasted and made many different versions. It is made with spinach and potatoes.

The potatoes are first fried in a little mustard oil until light brown. Then they are removed from the pan and either panch phoran and a dried red chili are fried in the oil or kalonji with fresh green chilies is fried. Then a pinch of turmeric and a little sugar is stirred in before adding the spinach, potatoes, a little water and some salt. It is then cooked until the potatoes are tender and the water evaporates. Sometimes this also gets little fried bits of moong bori (sun-dried lentil nuggets). I love it. I suppose this is called "palong shaaker ghanto", no?

Edward, my wife makes Palong Shaak with potatoes in the way which is very very similar to yours. Not sure if you can call it a "ghanto" though...

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I am always a little bit confused about therm "ghanto" and also the term "chochori". I have heard these terms used in slightly different ways by many Bengali cooks. I understand "ghanto" to mean "jumbled".

Some cooks have told me that "chorchori" must have a charred crust (as in baati chorchori)to qualify as one. Others have said the opposite. I know these terms are dependent not just on the level and type of spicing, but on the cut of the vegetables to be cooked. I would love it if you would elaborate on this.

Thanks

Edward

Edward Hamann

Cooking Teacher

Indian Cooking

edhamann@hotmail.com

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