Being home from the Philippines means one thing for sure... I get to cook again!
Today I have been laying low because I'm fighting a cold (thank you, Providence Hall students!), so I was ready for some comfort food.
One of my favorite dishes at Indian restaurants is saag paneer. I've tried a few times to make it myself, and my version has never quite matched up. But I dug out an old recipe I'd missed till now and I'm happy to say, I hit the jackpot. Yessssss.
I highly recommend that you make the effort to find paneer cheese for this recipe. If you live in Goleta the Good Land, you can find it at my absolute best source for all sorts of spices and international ingredients, Indochina Market. From spun rice noodles to Cadbury chocolate to tamarind paste to paneer, this place rocks.
If you can't get it, tofu is a good substitute (speaking for myself, that is. Housemate insists paneer is a crucial ingredient).
1/2 lb packaged paneer cheese, sliced into cubes
flour for dusting (I used GF flour and it worked great)
3 tb olive oil
2 onions, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled & minched (or 1 tsp crushed ginger)
1-2 green chiles, stemmed & thinly sliced (or your favorite hot sauce ~ add according to your taste)
1 lb fresh spinach, thoroughly washed
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tb half & half (I used plain yogurt instead)
Enough rice for each person...
1. Start rice.
2. Lightly dust paneer cubes with flour. In non-stick saucepan, heat 1 tb oil. Sauté paneer cubes on medium-low heat until they turn a shade darker on all sides.
3. In another pan, heat remaining 2 tb oil. Add onions, garlic, ginger, green chiles and sauté, stirring constantly for 5 minutes over medium heat until onions are soft.
4. Add spinach and water and simmer till spinach is wilted (cover the pan). Let cool slightly.
5. Pour contents of saucepan into blender or food processor and process into coarse puree.
6. Pour puree back into saucepan and add salt, garam masala and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat to blend flavors.
7. Add fried paneer and half & half (or yogurt), and gently simmer over low heat for 5 more minutes. Serve over rice.