Rounding out my Indian series is this recipe for Saag Paneer. I have loved this series because AJ and I so love Indian food. As I wrote earlier, I had stopped making Indian dishes because they were so complex. Now that I know a little more about cooking and, that, I have a well stocked spice cabinet, it just is not that difficult to cook a great tasting Indian meal.
I have posted about a Yellow Curry Sauce as a base, a Masala Lentil recipe and a Chicken Curry recipe (using the yellow curry sauce). This final post for Saag Paneer is one of those recipes that I thought was difficult. It was so easy it is ridiculous. The Paneer, is an unaged farmer’s cheese, like a cheese curd. It does not melt. The paneer is spiced and then browned in a pan. It is such a cool consistency. It is the protein in this dish.
The spices are similar to what you would expect for Indian food. They include ginger, turmeric, garlic, coriander, cumin and garam marsala. What you may not be expecting is that the dish also includes some cayenne and a serrano chili. The creaminess of the dish comes from yogurt. So this dish is pretty darn healthy. What I also like is this is a vegetarian dish. The paneer is very hearty so the meat eater will not miss the meat. Obviously, if you are vegan, this cheese and the yogurt are not for you.
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 tablespoons safflower oil
- 12 ounces paneer (I used a little more)
- 1 (16-ounce package) frozen chopped spinach
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 green serrano chile, finely chopped - seeds removed
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
- In a large bowl, whisk together the turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons of the oil.
- Cut the paneer into 1" cubes.
- Drop in the cubed of paneer and gently toss.
- Let the cubes marinate while for 10 minutes or so while the rest of your ingredients are prepped.
- Thaw the spinach in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish - about 5 minutes.
- Then puree in a food processor until smooth.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat, and add add the paneer as the pan warms. Be patient. Let the paneer brown - about 2 minutes. Flipped lightly and fry for another minute.
- Remove the paneer from the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and chile.
- Saute the mixture until it starts to turn a brownish color. This will take 10 to 15 minutes. If the mixture gets dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water to prevent from burning.
- Add the garam masala, coriander and cumin. Add a little water to keep the spices from burning. Cook, stirring often.
- The spices will get sweeter - about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the spinach and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach. Add a little salt and 1/2 cup of water, stir, and cook about 5 minutes with the lid off. You want the water to burn off.
- Turn the heat off. Add the yogurt, a little at a time to keep it from curdling.
- Once the yogurt is fully absorbed and mixed well, add the paneer.
- Turn the heat back on, cover and cook until everything is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
The paneer is spiced and then browned in a skillet.
The cheese is removed from the pan, and then, the onion, garlic, ginger and serrano are softened in the skillet.
The spinach is added as well as the rest of the spices.
The paneer and yogurt added.
The final vegetarian Indian dish.