Saag Paneer

Spinach curry with cheese

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Saag Paneer

Makes: less than you might think because spinach cooks down a lot, but probably a quart
Takes: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb paneer cheese
  • 1 lb chopped spinach
  • 3 Tbsp ghee or oil (do NOT use butter)
  • 1 fresh green chile (deseeded, finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed) OR 1 1/2 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 1/4″ piece fresh ginger (grated) OR 2 tsp frozen grated ginger (thawed)
  • 1 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 cardamom pods (cracked)
  • 1 small cinammon stick
  • 1/2 cup light cream, half-n-half, or yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (grated if you can, ground otherwise)

Instructions

  1. Cook down the spinach in a covered pan with a bit of water – approximately 4-5 minutes. Be amazed by how small it gets. Put cooked spinach in a colander to drain.
    (Tip: save the drained liquid for drinking or making stock or whatever, it is full of good stuff)
    Alternately, defrost the frozen spinach. I use fresh because I hate stems; you do you.
  2. Cut the cheese into 3/4″ cubes (basically, bite-sized).
  3. Heat the ghee/oil in a frying pan and fry the cheese until it’s deliciously golden on the outside. You probably want the ghee/oil hotter than you think.  Keep them moving around and flipping them so they don’t stick.  It’s better to do them in multiple batches than sticking together.
  4. Add the garlic, spices, and salt to fry briefly (lower the heat a bit).
  5. Add the dairy and bring to a simmer.
  6. Squeeze/press the spinach a bit to get more liquid out and then stir it into the pan with everything else.
  7. Let simmer for a few minutes until all the flavors blend and it’s not too wet.
  8. Take out the cinnamon stick and serve with rice.

Notes

This is a combination of a couple recipes I have in a little cheap cookbook of curries, 1 for lamb saag and 1 for saag paneer, that I’ve tinkered with until it does approximately what I want.  I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this recipe, and would be interested opinions on that.

DO NOT USE BUTTER TO FRY THE PANEER. You will get a lot of splatter and probably 2nd degree burns on your hand from the splatter.  Learn from me and just go buy ghee or use oil!

Paneer is an Indian farmer’s cheese.  I hear it’s pretty easy to make, but it is available at better regular grocery stores with an “ethnic” section.  It may be in with other cheeses.

The choice of chile pepper is yours, though I would recommend not going to the habanero end of the Scoville scale.  Jalapenos do pretty well and are readily available.

Ethiopian Chickpeas 

Ethiopian chickpeas and carrots side dish

Ethiopian Chickpeas

Makes: about a quart worth
Takes: about an hour

Ingredients

  • 14 oz chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 yellow onion (small, diced)
  • 3 carrots (small-medium, chopped into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups spinach leaves (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tsp Berbere
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (regular paprika will work too)
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan or a wok, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the diced onions. Stir for 2 minutes
  2. Add all the spices and saute the onion in the spices for about 5 minutes over medium heat. If it starts to smoke, lower the heat.
  3. Add the chickpeas, chopped carrots, vegetable stock, and salt. Stir well, bring to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat and let it simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until the carrots are fully cooked and there is only a little bit of the liquid left.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped spinach until it is wilted

    Notes

    Again, this recipe is lifted from my spouse and thus no source or knowledge of authenticity.

    As with most Ethiopian food, it is meant to be served over injera.

    I recommend making the carrot pieces a little bigger than the chickpea, but still bite size.