Spinach with Fresh Indian Cheese (Saag Paneer)
Often accompanied by flatbreads or dal, saag paneer is a classic Punjabi vegetarian dish. Madhur Jaffrey's recipe is packed with flavour and simple to make.
There are dozens of recipes for saag paneer in the Punjab, where dairy products are a mainstay of the diet and where this dish originated. Here is one of the simplest. It is generally served with Indian flatbreads and a dal.
The size of the paneer cubes you cut will depend partly upon the size of the block you buy.
|fresh spinach, well washed and lightly drained
|good-sized tomato (about 180g/6oz), chopped
|generous handfuls of fresh coriander leaves
|fresh hot green chillies, chopped
|dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi), crushed between your palms or fingers into a powder
|olive or peanut oil
|medium onion (140g/5oz), peeled and finely chopped
|peeled and very finely grated fresh ginger
|cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
|salt, or to taste
|fresh Indian cheese (paneer), cut into 2cm/¾ inch cubes
You will need a blender.
Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil and drop all the spinach into it. As soon as it wilts, drain in a colander and run cold water over it. Set aside to drain for another 5 minutes. Do not try to squeeze any more water out of it.
Put the tomato, spinach, fresh coriander, green chillies and dried fenugreek leaves into a blender in the order listed and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Pour the oil into a medium, non-stick frying pan and set over a medium heat. When hot, add the onion and fry for 7-8 minutes, or until soft and golden. Add the ginger and garlic and continue to stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes. The onion should pick up a little colour. Stir in the chilli powder, ground coriander, cumin and turmeric. Now pour in the mixture from the blender, adding the salt, cheese and 120 ml/4 fl oz water. Stir and bring to a simmer, then cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring gently now and then.