The Man’s Opinion – Saag Love

by Ivan Calhoun

Last week I was feeling ill, a massive head cold with aches and pains caused me to even wimp out and miss a day of work on Monday. But true to form, despite remaining sick, I went in to the office the rest of the week. By Thursday I’d had enough — I left at lunch for one of my cures.

I was mostly raised in Northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle, regions featuring enchiladas and barbeque –- foods I absolutely love. But while I was in college I relocated to Fort Worth between semesters to work in the information technology department of a large bank corporation.  After moving, I found my favorite enchiladas and barbeque just as readily available as expected but then one day, one of the close friends I worked with told me about a new restaurant nearby. I told him I’d never tried that type of food before but was game. So at lunch that day I discovered one of my absolute favorite foods even to this day, Saag Paneer.

Even now, 25 years later, I am so addicted to Indian food that I find it difficult to be somewhere without a readily available source. Which is why I’m surprised I lived recently 6 years in places without an Indian or Pakistani restaurant nearby. But there was an unexpected benefit from having been isolated from Saag and Chicken Tikka Masala and Aloo Gobi and Naan. I had to start cooking it myself. I can’t say I’ve gotten very good at Indian cuisine but my attempts were better than nothing, being at least 40 miles from the closest alternative. Problem was though, I didn’t do Saag. When I lived in far Northern Idaho, I was relegated to finding sealed packages of Saag Paneer in the ethnic section of a local market — if I was lucky — and boiling the bags of runny spiced spinach stuff with rubber textured cheese. I’m starting to think it was one of the reasons I moved away from there.

So last Thursday I took off to just overload my system with curry –- mostly from the wonderful Saag Paneer of my new favorite local restaurant. It worked terrifically. After a tough time getting through the morning, I powered through the afternoon so quickly that I was shocked to discover it was half past 5 when I finally looked up. The next day I was back to 95%. I don’t really know or worry whether Saag actually does help cure me but I do care that it reminds me always of long ago friends and of places I’ve been and of discovery and of the exoticness of life. And who would have thought when I was a little kid my favorite dish in the world would be spinach! I just need to knuckle down some day and give it a go in my own kitchen.

For more on Ivan Calhoun, check out our About page.

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One Response to “The Man’s Opinion – Saag Love”

  1. Lucks AKA Sulekha:

    WE all have some favorite foods and lovely memories associated with those. My Dad used to take me to Kailash Parbat in Colaba, Bombay, for their famous Falooda Kulfi and I still have tears in my eyes whenever I have the same here. Saag Paneer is a wonderful dish and I think it does help in making us stronger like Popeye. You can always ask Kanwal for an easy to make recipe for the same. Great post, Ivan Calhoun..

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