In my BMB (Before My Blog) days I went through a long phase of cooking Indian food once or twice a week. I think it was a combination of not being able to find really good Indian food here and the fact that a great little Indian market opened up nearby, giving me access to good ingredients. I love all the different flavors in this cuisine and although some better Indian restaurants have opened up and I get busy making other things and don't cook it as often as I used too, I still enjoy it. Surfing Tyler's recipes on Food Network for something new to make for TFF, I found his recipe for Saag Paneer and decided to give it a try. if you are not familiar, saag paneer is basically greens--usually a mix of spinach and mustard leaves, cooked with paneer, a type of cheese. (As Tyler's recipe is just spinach leaves, it could also be called "palak paneer"). Paneer is a white, farmer's style cheese that is firm and doesn't melt. (A very firm tofu makes a good vegan substitute).
You can find Tyler's Saag Paneer recipe as well as his recipes for curry powder and ghee at the Food Network site here.
Adapted fromTyler Florence
(Makes 4 Servings)
2 pounds fresh baby spinach, washed and stems trimmed
1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter-I used olive oil instead)
1/2 pound cubed paneer cheese
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, toss in the spinach and blanch for 1 minute until very tender. Dump the spinach into a colander and press firmly with the back of a spoon to extract as much water as possible, set aside.
Heat the ghee in a deep skillet over medium-high flame. Add the cubed paneer and fry for a couple of minutes until light brown on all sides, gently turning to avoid breaking up the cubes. Remove the cheese from the skillet and set aside.
Return the skillet to the heat and sauté the onions, garlic, and ginger; cook and stir for about 5 minutes until soft. Sprinkle the mixture with the curry powder; continue to stir to marry the flavors, about 1 minute. Fold in the chopped spinach and give everything a good toss. Shut off the heat and stir the buttermilk and yogurt into the spinach to incorporate. The mixture should be creamy and somewhat thick. Gently fold in the fried paneer cubes, season with salt, to taste, and serve with steamed basmati rice and/or flat bread.
Notes/Results: Really good, flavorful and not too heavy, especially using the low-fat buttermilk and non-fat Greek yogurt. Although I have some ghee in my pantry, I just used a bit of olive oil to saute my paneer and onions. I also used my favorite brand of curry rather than Tyler's mixture, (which is good--just not my favorite). Both the curry and ghee recipes are on the Food Network site if you want to make your own. I did double the amount of curry in the recipe--I like as much curry flavor as I can get. Without making the ghee and curry powder, the recipe goes together very quickly and easily and I had dinner on the table in a little over 20 minutes. I served mine with a jeera (cumin) rice mix and some paratha, an Indian flatbread, from the Indian market. A perfect vegetarian meal, creamy and satisfying and a great way to work those greens into your diet in a tasty way. I would make this again.
You can see what the rest of our Tyler Florence Fridays participants made this week and find out what they thought about their choices by going to the TFF site here.
Happy Aloha Friday!