Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saag Paneer (Indian Spinach with Homemade Cheese)


 This is a classic Northern Indian dish that consists of spinach and fresh, unripened cheese made by curdling whole milk to separate the curds from the whey.  You can find it in many stores,
but as with most things, I find homemade best!

2 bunches spinach, trimmed
2 tbsp vegetable (or coconut) oil
3/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp finely grated fresh gingerroot
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (AKA coriander)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Pinch cinnamon
3 plum tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup Balkan-style yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp garam masala
8 oz paneer, cubed
Saag Paneer!!!

  • In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch spinach until just wilted; drain.  Chill under cold water and drain again.  In a food processor, puree spinach with 1/4 cup water and set aside.
  • In a large deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat;  cook cumin seeds until slightly darkened (approx. 10 seconds).  Add onion and butter; saute until onion is golden (approx. 8 minutes).  
  • Reduce heat to medium; stir in garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute.  Stir in fresh cilantro, cayenne, turmeric, ground coriander, salt and cinnamon.  Saute, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds before adding tomatoes.  Stir until tomatoes break down (approx. 3 minutes).
  • Stir in pureed spinach; cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adding 1 to 2 tbsp water if mixture is getting too dry, until steaming hot (approx. 3 mins).
  • Stir in yogurt, lemon juice and garam masala; bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and add paneer.  Cover and cook until heated through (approx. 2 minutes)
  • Serve and ENJOY!
12 cups homogenized milk
1 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
  • In a large saucepan, bring milk to a boil; remove from heat.  Add lemon juice; stir until milk curdles and separates into spongy white chunks (curds) and greenish milky water (whey).  Stir in salt.
  • Pour into a double cheesecloth-lined stainer set over bowl.  Let stand until most of the liquid has drained off.  Fold cheesecloth over top; weigh down with a plate and full 28oz can.  Refrigerate for 8 hrs or up to 24 hrs.
  • Remove cheesecloth and use!
*I substituted goat's milk yogurt - it is thicker and my family who is lactose intolerant can eat it!  I also omitted the butter and used coconut milk for the saag recipe...the paneer recipe I followed to a "T".

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