One of my favorite desi dishes is saag paneer: Spicy greens with chunks of farmer’s cheese. It’s very similar to palak paneer which, if I understand the names properly, is made primarily with spinach as the leafy green. I enjoy a mix of several greens, including fenugreek leaves and mustard greens to add some oomph to the spinach.
Food52’s “The Quest for the Easiest, Tastiest Palak Paneer” provides great tips. I hadn’t realized the importance of tomatoes, so don’t omit them.
- 12 ounces paneer, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 inches ginger root
- 6 to 8 garlic cloves
- 4 to 6 ounces tomatoes (fresh or canned)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
- 2 small to medium onions, chopped into a small dice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot curry powder: a mix containing garam masala, turmeric, and hot red chile — I used Penzey’s “Hot Madras Curry Powder”
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek seed
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 small handful of curry leaves: chiffonade if fresh, otherwise crumble
- a large handful of fenugreek leaves, dry or fresh
- 1 pound (frozen or fresh) of a combination of chopped spinach and mustard greens — try arugula!
- additional hot water, as needed
- 1/4 cup lowfat or whole plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- In a broad frying pan, heat the oil until shimmering. Fry the paneer so that 2 or 3 sides are lightly browned. Set aside on a paper towel plate to absorb excess oil.
- Purée the ginger, garlic, tomatoes, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup water with an immersion blender, and set aside.
- In a large pot, sauté the onions until translucent. Stir in spice mixture until fragrant.
- Stir in ginger, garlic, and tomato purée, followed by the greens. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Partially purée the saag with an immersion blender. I like some texture with sauce, so I take out about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the saag to purée. Add some hot water if it seems dry to purée.
- Stir in the yogurt and cream, followed by the paneer. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning, then serve with rice or breads.