Super easy, quick and yummy – Saag Paneer
Yes, I’m saying ‘Saag Paneer’ and ‘easy’ in the same sentence. Don’t hold me to authenticity but you can certainly expect taste and supreme ease.
Paneer is one of my favorite Indian things to eat. And making it in a way that honours the decadent cheese and still brings some health into things is not that hard. Restaurant style Saag Paneer involves pureed spinach, into which fried Paneer cheese is added and topped off with oodles of cream. The home version is often less OTT with cheese that’s just cooked in the sauce or chopped spinach, or both.
Here’s my take on it.
Start with the Paneer. Cut it into ¾ inch-ish cubes-ish! Then take 2 tablespoons of oil, your choice, something that heats well and doesn’t have too much flavour would be great. I used canola. Warm in a large pan and put in the Paneer cubes in one layer, not terribly close together. Give them 4-5 mins. Stir around after that time so a few get exposure on the second side. They should be brown but not necessarily evenly on all sides. Trust me, to make this easy, you want to take the cubes out at this stage. Paneer splutters like crazy and for the sake of your hands and kitchen, one side of brown will give you the texture you need to make this dish just a little more decadent.
Remove onto paper towels. In the remaining oil in the pan, add 1 large chopped onion. When it starts to brown, put in a teaspoon each of minced or pureed ginger and garlic. Let it sautee till you no longer smell raw aromatics.
Now add in a half a cup of chopped tomatoes; I used canned, you could use fresh as well. Put in some water to break it up a little and let the mix cook covered for 5 minutes till the tomatoes soften and break down.
Remove the lid, add in 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder (you can replace this with 1 teaspoon of garam masala which is more traditional), ½ teaspoon cumin and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper. Let sauté on a high flame, stirring continuously till the mix dries out and you see some flecks of oil in it. At any point if things look too dry, sprinkle some water on.
Now add in ½ a large box of baby spinach (about 200 grams; a bit more or less won’t harm in the least). Salt to taste and let the spinach wilt. It’ll take a minute or two. Stir once or twice during this time. And cover for 30 seconds if you really want to speed this up. Reduce heat to a medium high.
Once the spinach has wilted, add in the ‘fried’ Paneer. Stir it all together. Put in a ½ cup of water if needed to make it a gloppy sauce but not runny. Once the sauce has coated all the Paneer, finish with 1/3 cup of table cream (18% fat). Stir through, remove from heat, and sprinkle a ¼ teaspoon of Madras curry powder over.
I did promise easy didn’t I??
This works great over some rice or with a side of any whole wheat bread (naan, toast).