Saag Paneer (Curry with Spinach and Cheese)
*Photos updated January 2012*
Inspiration: We have been eating food other than Indian lately, but with the recent successes that I’ve had cooking chicken tikka masala and shahi korma, I’ve been really looking to find and try new Indian recipes. B and I went out to an Indian restaurant recently and had this spinach and cheese dish, and we both really loved it. I always love to be inspired by restaurant meals!
What we Loved: This is the third Indian recipe that I’ve made in about a week and a half that has been absolutely delicious. Paneer cheese doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor on its own, but B and I both really loved the nice, brown crust on the cheese and how the creamy spinach sauce went so well with the texture and mild flavor of the cheese. This dish is loaded with spinach, but it doesn’t in any way taste like you’re eating a bowl of spinach. The curry sauce contains so many spices that combine really well with the cream, spinach, and cheese for a wonderfully flavorful curry that has a nice, yellow color from the turmeric that is added to the sauce. There’s a bit of richness from the cream and tomato, a fresh vegetable flavor from the spinach, and a wonderful, creamy depth of spices from the sauce. This is definitely another success!
Helpful Hints: I was a bit worried about sauteeing the paneer, since it is a cheese and I didn’t want it to melt into a gooey mess. It’s a very firm cheese, though, and it won’t melt. In a hot pan, it sautees up very quickly, so keep a careful eye on it. I only needed a minute or two per batch.
Source: Tea & Cookies
I modified the recipe just a bit. Here’s the recipe as I made it.
8 oz paneer cheese, chopped into cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or ground cumin powder)
1 stick cinnamon (or about 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
3 small bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 16 oz bag frozen spinach, thawed
Good pinch of red pepper flakes
Good pinch of cloves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 tesapoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup cream
1. Heat a pat of butter in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the paneer cubes and saute until golden, just a few minutes. Remove the paneer from the pan and set aside.
2. Add another pat of butter to the pan. Saute the onion until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, garlic, ginger, and tomato. Mix to combine.
3. Add the spinach to the pan, and stir to combine. Saute for approximately 5 minutes, letting the water from the spinach cook off.
4. Add the red pepper flakes, cloves, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
5. Add the cream and tomato paste, and mix everything well to combine. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for approximately 5 minutes.