June 25, 2010

Saag Tofu and Onion Garlic Naan

A healthier and skimmed down version of Saag Paneer, the ubiquitous creamed spinach and cheese dish that you can find at every Indian restaurant from the US to India.  South Asians are a group of people that could eat a lot healthier.  They have some of the highest case loads of type 2 diabetes and dysmetabolic disorders in the world - and yet they also have some of the largest micronutrient deficiencies in the developing world (iodine, vitamin A, and iron).  The burden of the nutrition transition.

This saag paneer dish has been transitioned to a healthier version.  Extra-firm tofu has been used in place of the paneer, and their is no cream (the oil for pan-frying the tofu lends itself quite well to the rest of the dish).  I served this with some whole-wheat onion-garlic naan.  Prep the onion-garlic naan ahead of time, including the onion-garlic topping. The naan takes 4-5 hours to rise, and about 30 minutes to cook and prep.  You can cook the naan while you make the saag and both will be done around the same time.

Saag Tofu
1 block tofu, quick-drained, and then prepared like this (except see directions below)
3 T oil (use the leftover oil from the tofu prep) - it may be more
1 and 1/2 cups tomato chunks, either from fresh tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes
1 T Thai curry paste (I used green curry paste)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 T cumin
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 10 oz packages frozen chopped spinach or one 16 oz package
salt as needed

  1. In a non-stick skillet prepare tofu with the soy-cumin pan-roasted tofu recipe - you will have some of the oil leftover. Carefully remove the tofu with a slotted spoon, and reserve the oil. Add the tofu back to the pan and add 1 T soy sauce and stir together quickly. Remove tofu and add oil back to pan. Continue to heat over medium heat. 
  2. In a mixing bowl add tomatoes, Thai curry paste, turmeric and cumin and stir together well. 
  3. Once oil in pan is hot (it won't take long) add in cumin seeds until they sizzle and crackle. Stir in the tomato mixture and continue to heat for about 5-6 minutes over medium heat. 
  4. Add in the 2 packages of frozen chopped spinach and cover, stirring every 5-10 minutes.
  5. Adjust salt as necessary, tasting before it is served. If you wanted a creamy version, you could stir in 1/2 cup of coconut milk or heavy cream just before you serve it. 
  6. Add in tofu and stir to combine.

Whole-wheat onion garlic naan
1 tsp yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 T oil
3 T yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (mine was flecked with bran) plus 1/2 cup extra for kneading
1/2 cup pastry flour (you could do reverse proportions with all-purpose instead so 1 and 1/2 cups all purpose with 1/2 cup whole wheat, but I like the whole wheat instead)
oil for oiling bowl

For naan cooking time:
melted butter (about 2 T, melted)
Squirt bottle with water

Onion-garlic topping
1 onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tsp chopped dill
1 tsp oregano (or cilantro, chopped)
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
squeeze of lemon juice
salt to taste

Directions for onion-garlic topping:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and adjust for flavor and salt. This can be prepared in advance and chilled in the fridge until ready to use. 
Directions for naan:
  1. Mix together yeast and warm water until bubbly or foamy. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, oil, yogurt, and salt. Mix together until crumbly. Stir in yeast mixture and combine until it comes together. 
  3. Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and continue to knead for 5 minutes. 
  4. Oil a large bowl (about 1 tsp) and place dough in bowl, turn once, and let rise in the oven for 4-5 hours.  Next you can prepare the onion-garlic topping
  5. When ready to make the naan, remove the dough from the oven and preheat oven on broil setting. If you have a pizza stone, set it in the oven to preheat. If you don't have a pizza stone, just get out a jelly-roll pan or whatever you do have and set it on the side. 
  6. Turn the risen dough out on a floured surface and gently knead it together and form 6 balls. Let the dough balls rest about 10 minutes. 
  7. With your hands very carefully pull the dough out in a circular motion being careful not to tear the middle. You will be stretching it ever so slightly with your hands. If you roll the dough out, you will lose the air bubbles so just carefully pull it out. Flour your hands and the surface so you don't rip the dough. I promise it is easy, just take your time. 
  8. You'll notice that the dough wants to shrink back, when you have a circle about 5" in diameter, give it a quick butter wash, and place 1 T of topping on the top of the naan, spreading it out over the naan.  You can pull it out a good inch or so more and it should stay. Now, if using a stone work quickly to get them on the stone. Pick up with your hands and set on stone. You should have 2-3 ready to go. Broil 3-4 minutes. It all depends on how hot your oven is, you may need more or less time. Now if you are using a baking pan, set out as many naans as will fit (2 or 3) and pop in the oven and set the timer for 2-3 minutes. Again, it may take longer or shorter depending on the heat. If using a baking pan, after 1 minute, you can pop open the oven and hit it up with some water misting. Your naan is ready when golden on top.

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