Monday, September 8, 2008

Saag Panir (Indian spinach curry with homemade cheese)

Like I said before, I love paneer. Its bouncy texture and delicate, slightly sweet taste compliments the heat in most Indian dishes. The following recipe is from Steven Raichlen's "High Flavor, Low Fat Vegetarian Cooking" and it has quite a few good dishes in there. It's similar to the Palak Paneer that Dana and I are in love with at Remedy Cafe, only this one has tomatoes and sour cream in it.
Here we go.

First off, you have to make the paneer. You will need a cheesecloth. If you don't know what that is, it's a loose woven cotton cloth used for straining and it can be found at most grocery stores.

6 cups 2% milk
3 tbsp lemon juice

1. Bring milk just to boil in a large heavy saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. The milk will curdle in about 10 seconds.
2. Pour the mixture through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Let drain for 10 minutes. Rinse the curds under cold water to remove the lemon taste and let drain.
3. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth together and tie the curds into a tight bundle. Place the bundle on a sloping cutting board in the sink. Place a heavy weight, like a cast-iron skillet (or a few textbooks on a plate), on top.
4. Press curds for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm. Unwrap the cheese and cut it into 1/2" cubes.

Saag Paneer (or "Panir", as spelled in the book)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 cinnamon stick
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper to taste

2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
3 10oz packages of frozen spinach, thawed
1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 cups diced paneer
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or green onion for garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Lightly brown the onions over medium heat (4 to 5 minutes), adding the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon stick, salt, black pepper, and cayenne after 2 minutes.
2. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and vegetable stock or water and gently simmer for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
3. Stir in the sour cream and lemon juice and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the paneer and cook until warmed but not melted.
4. Correct the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
5. Garnish with cliantro or green onion and serve with basmati rice.


(I hope musicpb from flickr doesn't mind me using their picture, it was the best looking one there! If you ever find out and want it removed I will most definitly do so. I just didn't have any pictures of it myself but in the future I will!)

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