Sooo… new year, and there are some new goals. One of which is to try cooking more international foods and another which is to eat more vegetables (though let’s be honest, this is always a goal, just not something that is always achieved). This first recipe of 2012 definitely meets both those goals and was really tasty to boot. I’ve been slightly obsessed with Indian food after watching an episode of No Reservations on the plane home from Germany. When I had no food those first couple days I was back, I ordered in Indian and loved every bite. One of my go-to’s is Saag (or Palak) Paneer, slow cooked almost creamy greens with cubes of fresh cheese.
And THEN in my last Farm Fresh to You box, I got a huge bunch of collard greens and a whole bunch of spinach. Done and done. Home made Saag Paneer was on the menu. A while back I had seen an episode of Aarti Party (you know, the gal who won Next Food Network Star a little while back) where she made her own paneer and subesquently her own Saag Paneer. It seemed relatively simple and I had been wanting to try it ever since, so now was the time. Also, just for reference, saag means greens and palak means spinach, so if you make this dish with just spinach it’s palak paneer, a combo of greens is saag. Got it? Good…
So the adventure was fun. The cheese was REALLY good, especially after it was loaded with spices and toasted up in the pan. I especially loved curdling my own milk, pressing my cheese and the fresh flavor. It was also amazing how with just a few ingredients you can transform the same basic ingredients you cook with all the time into special Indian fare. Garam masala, ginger, garlic, serrano pepper, corriander all came together to add a spicy, earthy dish. The saag I made was loaded with all these traditional flavors and a little heat. It would definitely not be quite the ordeal mine was if you used frozen spinach as all the recipes call for, but nonetheless I was quite satisfied with my results! The next morning I even had it with an egg for breakfast… Definitely loved my first exploration into flavor profiles and processes that were new to me.
A bit of the process…
lemon juice to curdle the milk
hang the cheese to drain
press it to form, and pan fry up the cubes with turmeric and cayenne – yum!
base of garlic, ginger and spice
add cooked greens, a bit of yogurt and the cheese
- Make sure you rinse the cheese well! The lemon juice does linger a bit
- If you use fresh greens, blanch to soften then cook down with a bit of butter and onion BEFORE chopping and adding to the spices
- To cook with an egg in the morning, warm greens in the pan, make a well, crack in the egg and cook it all together 300 degrees for 10-15 min until your egg is done
Recipes available here