Easy Saag Paneer

Today we had an exceptionally rare snow day (hurrah!) and instead of a pot of soup I decided to make one of my absolute favorite foods, Saag Paneer.  Saag is essentially a kind of Indian-spiced spinach and greens dish, and paneer is a type of fresh cheese.  Paneer is really easy to make, but lacking the milk to make a batch, I instead cheated and used a block of juustoa.  You can buy paneer pre-made in Indian groceries or specialty stores, and it does freeze well, or make your own.

You can use any type of cooking greens to make saag, and the types and ratio will give you different levels of sweetness.  For this batch I used a mix of cabbage and spinach, which is my favorite blend, but I have also enjoyed saag made with chard, mustard greens, kale, and even arugula.  Use whatever you like or that is in abundance.  You can also adjust the level of heat and richness by adjusting the hot peppers and butter or oil.  Some saag recipes call for as much as a half cup of butter or ghee, while other go spartan with a tablespoon.  I like an in-between level.  To veganize, use olive oil in place of the butter and use tofu in place of the paneer.

Easy Saag Paneer
3 tablespoons butter or ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, stem, ribs, and seeds removed
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 medium head of cabbage, cored and chopped
10 ounces fresh spinach
1 cup water
1/2 cup plain yogurt (optional)
8 ounces cubed paneer or juustoa

In a large saucepan with a lid, heat the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and jalapeno and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to soften.  Add in the cumin, coriander, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, turmeric, and salt, and cook for an additional minute, or until fragrant.

Add the cabbage, spinach, and water to the pot.  Cover and cook over medium heat for five to ten minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.  Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt, if using, or an additional half cup of water.  Using a blender or an immersion blender, pulse until the mixture is a texture you enjoy–I like a little chunky vegetable matter left, but some people like this really smooth.  Stir in the cubed cheese and sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro, if desired, and serve.

Thanks for reading,

-Angela

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12 Responses to Easy Saag Paneer

  1. Anonymous February 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    Had to re-read the ingredient list looking for the potatoes that I saw in the pictures. Finally, I realized it was juusotoa! It is dinner time here and I'm hungry just reading this recipe!

  2. Angela February 3, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    I also love this with potatoes or mushrooms–or just the spinach!

  3. Karen Harris February 4, 2012 at 2:33 am #

    This sounds delicious Angela. I have wanted to make paneer for sometime and now I'm just going to have to do it. You have inspired me.

  4. Maureen February 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    I would love to make this dish!

  5. marla February 5, 2012 at 12:48 am #

    One of my all time favorite Indian dishes!

  6. Angela February 5, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    It really is pretty easy but it takes a gallon of whole milk and some time to hang the cheese, so I will probably be using this cheater method most of the time.

  7. Angela February 5, 2012 at 2:42 am #

    Maureen, it is really easy and so worth it! Hope you like it if you do.

  8. Angela February 5, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    Mine too! I literally bought an immersion blender just to start making my own saag, and now I don't know how I lived without one.

  9. Lisa February 5, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    I make paneer quite a bit (or ricotta lol) and I would love to try your saag version of it – so many amazing flavors! It looks incredible!

  10. Melissa@Eyes Bigger February 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    i just saw this and I have been craving Indian food all week. I adore paneer. Saag and mattar are my two favourites. I finally was able to quench it yesterday with a little chicken masala and naan but this looks so freaking good! Yum!

  11. Angela February 19, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Just checked out your Rosti–oh, man, that is one of my favorite things.

  12. Angela February 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    It is hands down one of my most-favorite meals–especially with some fresh naan!

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