Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Channa Saag

I feel somewhat guilty about even writing a review for a Nutritarian version of Channa Saag. You see, I am a raving Indian food fan and anything that I am going to compare to real Indian food has a huge chance of just coming up really short.

But I don't like to indulge in Indian food except for a few times per year. It's one of the real treats that I sometimes partake in. And of all of the Indian dishes in the whole wide world, my absolute, hands-down favorite happens to be Saag Paneer (Spinach with Indian Cheese). It's got like a bazillion calories in it, so many years ago already I set out to create my own version of Faux Saag Paneer (aka Saag Tofu). I made it over and over and over until I got it to a place that I was really happy with it.

Not only that, I developed a crock pot version when my kitchen was undergoing renovations and I made a Saag Dip for my Plant-strong Superbowl Party in 2012. Now do you understand my obsession with this dish?

May I suggest that you check out those recipes? In my opinion, they are far better than the Channa Saag (Chickpeas and Spinach) recipe that is in the Eat to Live Cookbook. (Sorry Dr. F--I mean you no offense!)

Saag "Paneer" (Tofu) Just sub in cooked chick peas for the tofu if you want to make Channa Saag,
Crockpot Saag "Paneer" (Tofu)
Saag Dip

Channa Saag (Spicy Chickpeas with Spinach)
from The Eat to Live Cookbook by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, p. 50

Did I like it? No, but I made it edible with the addition of some low sodium Tamari.

Was it easy to make with readily available ingredients? Yes

What specifically did I like about the recipe? Well, at least it's sort of Indian Food.

What specifically didn't I like about the recipe? Knowing what is possible for a healthy Channa Saag, this one just fell short on taste and texture.

Did my husband like it? About as much as I did.

Did my teenage daughter like it? Surprise! She did! She really did. And she's taking it for lunch tomorrow.

Did my eight or five year old try it? No.

Would I make it again? I will stick with my own recipe for Saag Tofu.

Is there anything I would do to improve on it if I made it again? I won't be making this recipe again, but I do want to mention that I attempted to improve upon the recipe from the Eat to Live Cookbook as it was published with the following technique changes:

(1) I water sauteed the onions, garlic and ginger for a very long time (at least 20 minutes), even adding all of the spices shortly after starting the onions, etc. so that the spices could properly cook down, which is an integral part of authentic Indian cooking.

(2) Next I added the tomatoes and let those cook for a long time.

(3) Finally I added the spinach. I should have used an immersion blender and pureed the whole thing after the spinach heated up, to get a texture similar to what you would be served in an Indian restaurant. Instead, I decided to just go with how the recipe was written in the hopes that I would like it. It was a mistake.

(4) Lastly, I added half the amount of chickpeas (it would have been chickpea overkill with the amount that the recipe called for) and the cayenne pepper.

(5) Oh, I can't forget to add that I needed to add 1 Tbsp of low sodium Tamari (for the salt) to the recipe or I couldn't even eat it.

Overall Grade (completely unscientific, I admit): C (It would have gotten a D but my daughter really liked it).

Have you made Dr. Fuhrman's Channa Saag? What were your impressions? Leave a comment below.

Still don't have the book? What are you waiting for? These recipes are interesting.

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