05 – Saag Aloo

Saag aloo
**My** Saag Aloo (also Jamie Oliver’s), with the curried potato/spinach portion to the left, and to the right, the oily “temper” that gets added on top for a spicy kick

Before I get started, I should point out that I very nearly made a blog post for the real hero of this recipe, the Rogan Josh curry paste I was forced to make from scratch for the sake of this meal. It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe, and it smells amazing!

Okay, on to the actual post…

I’m sure everybody has had some moment in time when they’ve thought – in their heads or even out loud – “I can’t believe I actually just said/did that”. It’s pretty much a guarantee that each of us, at some point in time in our lives, has thought, “there’s no way I’d ever do that”, or “go there”, or “see those”…and then we in fact do “do”, or “go”, or “see” that which we thought was unlikely or impossible. When a moment like this happens, it causes many of us to ponder the road that brought us to that point. For myself these past few days, I’ve oddly-enough had a few of these rare moments.

For starters, I made a vegetarian dish of my own accord. Now don’t get me wrong: this has been known to happen in the past, but that’s only when such a dish serves as the accompaniment to a main dish with at least one ingredient that was once (but is now no longer) breathing. However, this time, without any prompting whatsoever, I decided on a dish with absolutely no meat. So, let’s call that “I can’t believe I just said/did that” situation #1.

rogan josh ingredients
As you can see, I eventually found “where the f***” the cilantro was, and took a picture showing all ingredients (and most tools) needed to make the paste. Not pictured is the mortar and makeshift pestle I (for the first time in my life) needed

“I can’t believe I just said/did that” situation #2 came as I was making the meal and couldn’t find a particular item in my refrigerator. I’d planned this meal for days, made a meticulous list of necessary ingredients for my next 3 dishes, and yet, when it came time to procure a necessary herb to get started on the meal, it was surprisingly well-hidden. “Where the *bleep* is my cilantro?” I angrily muttered, which was a definite shock to hear coming from my own lips. Firstly, I hated cilantro mere months ago; secondly, it’s sad to know how big of a potty-mouth I’ve become in recent years.

The third and final instance of this phenomena, “I can’t believe I just said/did that” situation #3, was the fact that I made my own curry paste. I used to look at my Jamie Oliver’s Revolution cookbook and think to myself, “Who the hell has the time, energy, and confidence, to make their own curry paste?” And yet, when Rogan Josh paste was nowhere to be found, I sucked it up and made my own. Amazingly, when I told my younger sister Andrea that I planned on making my own paste, we ended up with this unlikeliest gem of a conversation:

Andrea – “You couldn’t find it, so you’re making your own curry paste? You should have just asked me earlier.”

Me – “You mean you have a jar of Rogan Josh curry paste at home?”

Andrea – “No, I made some from scratch just this past week.”

Me – “So you couldn’t find it in Vancouver either?”

Andrea – “Oh, I did…but it cost a whole $8 [major emphasis on the “dollars”], so I just made some myself?”

Me – “Seriously? Which recipe?”

Andrea – “Jamie Oliver.”

Rogan Josh paste
My curry paste pictured with Jamie Oliver’s. I like to think that mine stacked up pretty well for a first attempt (to both Oliver’s and my sister’s).

So…a kitchen task so foreign and noteworthy to me is just something my sister quietly did for the sake of saving a buck or two. The randomness of us both making the same, somewhat-obscure curry paste, AND in the same week, was not lost on either of us.

Anyways, as always, I’m getting away from the food.

“My Saag Aloo” is an interesting, multi-component recipe from Oliver’s “Save with Jamie” cookbook. I made it, I liked it, and thanks to the extra paste I have sitting in the fridge, I’m sure I’ll be making it again soon.

I made it long enough ago that I don’t remember any additions or modifications made intentionally. However, there were two major errors (as well as a minor) that I should mention.

Errors:

– Greek Yogurt instead of Balkan; “Holy thick consistency, Batman!”. Also, somebody, somehow, changed it from Plain to Vanilla after I’d already bought and opened it. How? I don’t know – but clearly someone else was responsible and it wasn’t in any way my mistake, ok?

– Forgetting the spinach until after my wife finished her dinner and I was in the process of seconds. Added late, there was plenty of spinach to go around for leftovers.

– Unable to find the suggested lettuce to make wraps with, I chose Romaine. Iceberg (or probably anything else) would probably have been a better choice.

saag aloo without spinach
After I dressed it up for a photo, and before I realized the spinach was MIA and the yogurt had a bit of a sweeter flavour than anticipated.

All in all it was a pretty tasty meal, even with the above errors, and the purposeful omission of any meat. It could have been a bit more on the saucy side (possibly achieved by not cooking the potatoes longer than suggested, as I did out of fear they’d be undercooked) but it had good flavour and a nice kick.

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