Monday, December 31, 2007

Saag Paneer

When opportunity knocks it is important to answer. So what opportunity could be knocking in my grocery that has decided to close it's doors at the beginning of February? Paneer showed up. I have no idea why Paneer, that lovely creamy Indian cheese, would show up out here in the middle of northern Ohio. This is just a bizarre and lovely happenstance. I stood there at the cheese kiosk gazing helplessly at the little boxes of Paneer. If it wasn't price prohibitive, I might have bought them all. Immediate memories flooded back to eating at Shalimar in Ann Arbor with my good friend S. Memories of drowning my sorrows of being so far away from family and friends in Indianapolis at the Indian restaurant around the corner from work.

I happen to love Saag Paneer. A dish of spinach and cheese that's smooth goodness immediately soothes me into a state of calmness. I even have the Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking cookbook. And it has a recipe for Saag Paneer. Up until now I haven't found Paneer and thus haven't had a chance to make Saag Paneer. And I'll admit it. I'm a chicken when it comes to actually making the Paneer myself.

But this dish, although not terribly pretty, In fact it is downright ugly, is so yummy and delicious that I may have to go to my grocery and buy out what's left of the Paneer and then learn how to make it myself so I can eat this again and again. And yes its embarrassing that I don't have a recipe from some elevated Indian cookbook. But this Betty Crocker version is surprisingly good. Warm and soothing with a little bit of a kick.

The only problem I had was that it got a little dry in the spinach simmering time, so I added a cup of water. Also, I pureed my spinach before adding my cheese. And once the holidays ended, so did my supply of heavy cream. So I added whole milk and it turned out just fine.

Saag Paneer
From Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking

2 Tbsp olive oil
5 medium cloves garlic finely chopped
2 Tbsp finely chopped gingerroot
1 cup tomato sauce
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 (10 oz) packages chopped frozen spinach, thawed and undrained
1 cup water
2 cups 1/2 inch pieces of paneer sauteed until golden in olive oil
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp Garam Masala

1.) Heat oil in 3 quart saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic and gingerroot; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until garlic is golden brown.

2.) Stir in tomato sauce, ground coriander, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt; reduce heat to low. Partially cover and simmer 7 to 8 minutes or until a thin film of oil starts to form on surface of sauce.

3.) Stir in undrained spinach and water. Cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until spinach turns a light olive green. Transfer spinach mixture to food processor and puree; return to pan.

4.) Stir in cheese. Cover and simmer 3 to 4 minutes of until cheese is hot; remove from heat.

5.) Stir in milk and Garam Masala.


Deborah said...

I've never tried paneer before. I'm going to try to venture out this year and try new things - I need to keep my eyes open and see if I can find any of this around here!

Zylo said...

Why don't we have paneer?! They do sell frozen meals in Walmart though; they're just called palak paneer. I've never had it fresh though and I'm be itching to try it.