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Saag Shorba (Spinach-Curry-Tomato Soup) and Naan, Americanized beyond (almost) all recognition

03.06.08 | carnivals, food, recipes | 10 Comments

Soup is as forgiving, if not as forgetful, as a little child. Once, after a hard day — trust me, it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day — I completely forgot myself and slapped Susan on the mouth mid-scream. She screamed louder (yep, that worked really well) and then threw herself into my arms for a “hug and kiss” to make it all better.

Maybe she’s not the logical prodigy I thought she was. Or, maybe she really is like those apparently angelic kids who lived in Christ’s time (the ones He said were meek and mild).

Soup is forgiving: it takes a little of this and a little of that and a whole lot of heavy cream. So forgiving, in fact, that it’s hard for me to write down a recipe, because it’ll look like this: a handful of spinach, a pinch of curry, enough salt, a little more cream.

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But i have to say (they of the great blog title) is having a Recipe Box Swap with a money-saving theme, and so I’ve decided to write down my take on a fantastic dish at my favorite Indian restaurant, Bombay House. I searched for a copycat recipe (because we’re cheap like that) and found this to be a good starting point.

I serve my Saag Shorba with homemade flour tortillas. I know, naan would be more authentic, but I’ve had a lot more success with tortillas, and the main ingredient difference is the yogurt, which we don’t miss enough for me to keep struggling with naan. If you have a fail-proof naan recipe, please share! In the cost-saving mode, you can also buy huge bags of ready-to-cook tortillas in the refrigerator section of Costco. Once you make your own tortillas, it’s hard to go back to the ready-made.

At the store

My soup calls for ingredients you can find at your local grocery store (or even Walmart). Ethnic groceries are sprouting everywhere, but they’re usually not so conducive to saving money. If you want to mince your own fresh ginger and mix your own curry powder with real saffron, go for it, and send me a picture. We’re pretty much philistines around here, and easily satisfied with generic versions of most things.

Saag Shorba, WAM?-style; serves 4

1 onion, chopped fine
2-5 cloves garlic, minced
butter and oil for sauteeing (butter for flavor, oil to keep the butter from burning easily)
2 handfuls of frozen spinach, drained
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1-3 TBSP curry powder
pinch of ground ginger and/or cayenne
2-4 TBSP of chicken stock base OR 1-3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable), depending on how soupy you want it. We actually roll up our tortillas with the “soup” inside almost like a burrito, so we like it really thick.
1/2 – 1 cup heavy cream (or milk, you diet-happy people)

Saute onions and garlic ’til translucent and sweet; add spinach and tomato sauce, simmering until spinach is tender. Add seasonings. Pour heavy cream into blender and add soup; blend until desired smoothness. Enjoy!

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One thing to keep in mind is that, as with other spinach-rich foods, it’s important to introduce this slowly to your kids’ diet. My two youngest (18 mo and 3 1/2) love this, but an overdose can have seriously messy consequences.

Soft Flour Tortillas (thanks, Suzy A.); makes 8 tortillas

2 cups white flour (wheat would be healthier, but I just can’t do whole grains for everything, and tortillas are one food that require that bad white flour)
4 TBSP butter
1 tsp salt
water (start with 1/2 c)

Combine ingredients, adding water slowly until dough is similar to bread dough but maybe a bit stickier. Knead 30 times, cover with damp cloth, and let rest 30 minutes. (Good to start these first, then do soup, then while it simmers after blending, cook tortillas). Heat heavy skillet to medium high.

Divide dough into 8 balls and keep covered while rolling out each ball into a 8-10 in diameter on heavily floured surface. Place on skillet and turn as soon as brown spots appear (you’ll see corresponding puffs on the top side). Remove from skillet and place immediately in airtight container or plastic bag. This keeps them soft and steamy.

I had some leftover homemade play dough that the kids played with while I made these, which was good, because you have to keep the kids occupied if you don’t want them poking in your dough and touching hot skillets. The two doughs looked identical, so no one felt left out.

Easy Salt Dough: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 TBSP oil, enough water to form dough, food coloring if desired. Mix and enjoy!

There, cheap restaurant-quality dish AND cheap play dough. Who could ask for anything more?

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