Not Quite Traditional Saag Paneer
Paneer is a delicious firm yet mild tasting cheese used often in Indian dishes.
This version of Saag Paneer has a bit less spinach and more paneer. Of course you can add a lot more spinach to the dish if that’s how you would like it.
Recently I started to use packaged, pre-washed baby spinach in this dish and just love the lack of prep I have to do. Many recipes use frozen spinach but my preference is fresh.
Also, I prefer the spinach lightly cooked and not run through the food processor as is often done when creating this dish.
Want a vegan version? Replace the paneer with an extra firm tofu and it’s just lovely.
Marinade for the paneer
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne
2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil divided – I use organic sunflower oil
12 oz paneer, cut into 1” cubes
½ teaspoon sea salt
For the rest of the dish
2 – 1 lb packages baby spinach
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil: organic coconut or sunflower oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large serrano chile, seeds removed, minced (if you don’t like hot, spicy food leave this out)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tomato, diced
2 teaspoons garam masala
½ cup plain yogurt or coconut milk
Marinate the paneer
In a large bowl, whisk together the turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons oil. Add the paneer to this mixture and allow the cheese to marinate while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
Pan-fry the paneer
Using a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil on a medium-high heat. Pan-fry the paneer cubes until browned on all sides, turning regularly. Remove from the skillet when done and set aside.
Saute the veg and spices
Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet, add the onions, ginger, garlic and chile with a pinch of sea salt and sauté this mixture until it’s evenly caramel-colored. Stir regularly.
This takes up to 15 minutes or so. If the mixture starts to dry and scorch add a little water to prevent burning
Next add the garam masala, coriander, cumin and tomato and cook until the tomatoes break down a bit – about 5 minutes.
Add the spinach and finish the dish
Stir in the spinach and continue stirring until the spinach wilts, then add about ½ cup water and season with a bit of sea salt. Cook uncovered for another 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in the yogurt or coconut milk. If you’re using yogurt add it a little at a time to keep it from curdling and season with sea salt to taste.
Cover and cook for another 5 to 15 minutes depending on how well cooked you want the spinach. Stir occasionally.
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