The best saag paneer. June 29, 2014Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
Tags: great easy Indian food, great Indian food, Indian-inspired food, palaak paneer, saag paneer, saag paneer recipe
Silence Dogood here. I’ve made saag paneer, the Indian dish that combines spinach and other greens with cubed white, mild-flavored paneer cheese and sauteed spices for decades. It’s so delicious and easy to make! And those good-for-you greens have never tasted better, combined as they are with all the healing spices, not to mention super-healthy garlic and onion and lycopene-rich tomato.
I love to serve my saag paneer with basmati rice and plain Greek yogurt (as a baseline raita), sometimes also featuring a vegetable curry and embellished with luscious add-ons like tamarind and mint sauces and a fruit chutney, served with a generous helping of warm garlic naan. But that’s just for special occasions and guests. The simple meal of saag paneer, rice and yogurt is so good and so filling all by itself.
Incidentally, if you’re a saag paneer fan who buys it frozen and you’ve been confused by palaak paneer, which somehow seems just like saag paneer, the difference is that palaak (aka palak) paneer is made solely with spinach, while saag paneer has multiple greens, including methi, fresh fenugreek leaves. I’ve been able to find both dried methi leaves and fresh, frozen, cubed methi leaves at a nearby Indian grocery. As you’ll see, I try to keep the frozen cubes on hand to put in my saag paneer, but if I’m out of them, I’ll substitute dried.
I thought my saag paneer was perfect until I saw a recipe called “Authentic Saag Paneer” on Allrecipes.com. It had an ingredient I’d never seen in a saag paneer recipe—a half-cup of heavy whipping cream. Say what?! That would certainly raise the calorie count while lowering the health quotient considerably. But would it really make for an even more delicious saag paneer?
Turns out, the answer is a definite yes. This is mostly because of the luscious sauce that will permeate the rice you serve it over. (In this case, definitely serve the saag paneer over the rice, not alongside it, to catch every drop of the delicious sauce.) I find adding cream and simply serving the spiced greens over rice to make a perfect lunch, totally flavorful, totally satisfying. But unlike the Allrecipes.com version, I make no claim that my saag paneer is authentic, just that it’s great. And a great way to get your daily dose of supergreens.
1 large bag chopped kale
1 large bag chopped collard greens
1 large bag chopped spinach
2 cubes frozen methi (fenugreek leaves)
1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia or WallaWalla, diced
2-4 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste, to taste
1/2 to 1 package paneer, cubed (I like lots of paneer, you may prefer less)
1 tomato, diced
1 tablespoon powdered turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black or brown mustardseeds
1 tablespoon Trocomare, RealSalt, sea salt, or Himalayan salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
canola oil for cooking
In a very large, heavy pot (I use my very largest LeCreuset Dutch oven for this), add the bag of kale and sprinkle a little water over it. Cook, covered, over low heat until the greens have cooked down, stirring occasionally. When the greens have reduced, add the collard greens and repeat the process, adding a bit of water if needed and stirring the collards into the kale when they’ve cooked down. Finally, add the bag of spinach (again, with a little water if the pot seems dry), and stir the wilted spinach into the other greens, immediately turning off the heat.
In a second large, heavy pot (I use my next-largest LeCreuset Dutch oven), pour in canola oil to coat the bottom. Saute the onion with the salt until it clarifies, then add the spices, sauteing ’til fragrant. Add the diced tomato and the cubed methi (fenugreek leaves), stirring until broken down and incorporated. Now pour in the heavy cream. When it’s warmed, add the cooked greens and stir well to incorporate, then gently mix in the cubed paneer. Once the dish is hot, serve it over basmati rice and prepare to be blown away! It keeps well and reheats well, too. I make a big batch of basmati rice and stash it in the fridge, then prepare an ovenproof dish with some rice (and a little water) in the bottom topped with a helping of saag paneer, and tuck it in the oven at 250 degrees F. until it’s heated through. Yum!
Try it and see what you think.
‘Til next time,