Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

7.3.06

Saag paneer.

My first attempt at this. Although the concept is dead simple - it's essentially spinach with cheese - recipes seem to vary widely in terms of spices and other ingredients (other than the spinach and the cheese, of course).

Here's how I did it:

Sautee an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic in a little peanut oil and butter. (I believe ghee is the correct medium but I had none.)

Cook up some spinach - I used two 250 gram frozen packs.

Lightly toast some spices. I used: a teaspoon each of coriander seeds and cummin seeds and some dried curry leaves ground with the mortar and pestle (which is which? I can never remember); a half teaspoon of turmeric and a half teaspoon of chilli powder. Then add these along with a little grated ginger and salt to taste to the spinach. Now also add the sauteed onions.

Tip the whole lot into a processor, give it a good swizz until roughly pureed and then place it back into the pan.

Meanwhile, or subsequently, depending on how many hands you have, fry 250 grams of paneer (I used this one) cut into half inch cubes. Some recipes ask you to deep fry but I fried it in a heavycast iron pan with just a little peanut oil. Probably wrong, but it worked for me just fine.

While the paneer is sizzling, quickly swirl a big dollop of plain yogurt through the spinach mixture which is quietly simmering very low on the back burner.

When the paneer is golden brown and slightly crisp on the outside and looking so delicious that you want to eat it right then and there, don't. Instead, drain it and place into a bowl of hot water into which you have added a teaspoonful of turmeric. Leave it for five minutes. I think the idea is that the paneer takes on an even more golden colour. Well, that's what happened to mine. Then drain it and fold it through the spinach.

Time to eat. With basmati rice or chapatis or naan or parathas. I still haven't figured out all the different Indian breads but I do know they're all delicious.

4 comments:

neil said...

Mortar and pestle, which is which? Did you ever watch that Danny Kaye movie, where one of the drinks were spiked? All that Danny had to remember was, 'the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.' Well I don't think Danny knew which was which, the rhyme got longer and longer and funnier and funnier.

neil said...

Oops, mucked that up a little bit, try this link for a bit of a laugh.

http://www.dagsrule.com/stuff/pestle.html

It's the dialogue from the scene.

kitchen hand said...

Thanks, TuT. I vaguely remember that - one of those Sunday afternoon TV movies after a heavy lunch of roast lamb followed by chocolate puddings with lashings of cream at grandparents ...

I would like to have been a scriptwriter in those days - corny but a lot of fun.

Chai said...

This dish is good. I did an simple Indian cooking course last year and this was one of them. I have the recipe somewhere still, I think.