Spinach with Paneer (Saag Paneer)
Saag paneer, a combination of greens and paneer, is eaten all over north India with slight variations in the spices. In India, the spinach, which turns into a sauce for the paneer, is sometimes creamed. At other times, it is left in its chopped state, thus allowing it to stand in equal partnership with the paneer. I like the latter method because this way the spinach retains its texture. For this recipe, I have used fresh spinach because I prefer its taste.You could use two packets of frozen, chopped spinach, though, if you like. Cook spinach according to packet directions, drain well, and proceed with the recipe. Do not salt the spinach twice and remember to cook it very briefly with the ginger–garlic mixture.
|2.5cm (1in)||cube fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped|
|3–6||garlic cloves, peeled|
|½–1||fresh hot green chilli, sliced roughly|
|6 tbsp||vegetable oil|
|¼ tsp||garam masala|
|¼ tsp||cayenne pepper (optional)|
|675g (1½lb)||spinach, washed, trimmed, and very finely chopped|
|3 tbsp||single cream|
You will need an electric blender or food processor.
Put the ginger, garlic and green chilli into the container of an electric blender or food processor along with 50ml (2fl oz) water. Blend until you have a smooth paste. You may need to push down with a rubber spatula once.
Heat the oil in a large, wide, preferably non-stick sauté pan over a medium heat. Put in all the pieces of paneer and fry them, turning them over gently with a slotted spatula, until they are golden brown on all sides. (This happens fairly quickly.) Remove the paneer with a slotted spoon and place on a plate in a single layer. Sprinkle the paneer quickly with 1⁄8 teaspoon salt, the garam masala and the cayenne pepper. Set aside.
Put the paste from the blender into the hot oil in your pan (keep your face averted) and fry it, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Now add the spinach and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir the spinach around for 1 minute. Cover the pan, lower the heat, and let the spinach cook gently with the ginger–garlic paste for 15 minutes. There should be enough water clinging to the spinach leaves to cook them. If all the water evaporates, add 1–2 tablespoons and continue cooking.Nowadd the paneer and cream, stir gently and bring to a simmer. Cover and continue cooking on low heat for another 10 minutes. Stir once or twice during this period.