Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saag Paneer

I’ve been partaking in some “gin moments” lately. This ultimately leads to a little bit of a “headache” the following day. In the case of such events, the roommate and I usually recline on the couch and order for Indian food the next day. Paneer Makhani and Saag Paneer are my go-to items.
Although ordering from an Indian restaurant is easiest, I eventually decided to try my hand at making my own Indian dish. I’ve already made Paneer Makhani, so I decided to experiment with Saag Paneer.
Saag Paneer
adapted from Quick Indian Cooking
  • 14-oz paneer, cubed
  • 2 10-oz packages frozen, chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon habanero sauce (can adjust to taste or use another type of hot sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced finely
  • 4 cloves garlic & 1 inch ginger, pureed to a paste
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek leaves, crushed lightly
  • 3/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt to taste
1) Place the paneer in a bowl of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Drain the cubes and set aside for later use.
2) Microwave the frozen spinach for five minutes, or until thoroughly defrosted.
3) Add the habanero sauce to the spinach, then puree the mixture by placing it in a blender or by using an immersion blender.
4) Add the ghee (or other type of oil) to a frying pan over medium flame.
5) Fry the paneer. Once the cheese is golden brown, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
6) Add the onion and garlic/ginger paste to the oil and fry until the mixture is slightly browned.
7) Add all the spices except the garam masala. Stir to incorporate. Let the mixture fry for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8) Add the spinach to the onions and stir to combine. Add salt to taste.
9) Lower the flame so that the spinach and onions are simmering. Let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes.
10) Stir in the garam masala and the paneer cubes. Let all the ingredients simmer for another five minutes.
The end result was different from the food I usually get from the Indian restaurant in Hoboken. Let’s face it, I knew this wouldn’t taste exactly like the entrée I order since I’m pretty sure the restaurant uses more cream and a more intricate spice blend than I do. But. I still got the same flavor of the Saag Paneer. The spinach was smoky and spicy and the paneer was firm on the outside but soft and a little chewy on the inside. I spooned some of this over a plate of rice and my hangover was on its way to being cured.

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