It’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe for my Transport your Taste Buds series, so when Rachel came to me with her recipe for Saag Paneer, I immediately took her up on her offer. I was so excited that she wanted to share the recipe with not only me, but also with all of you. I know that I’ll be making this soon enough, and I hope you can add it to your recipe collection too.
I’ve been trying to expand what Indian dishes I can realistically cook at home without spending a ton of time gathering ingredients or sweating over the stove. And today I’ve successfully tried saag paneer. I’m excited to share with you how I made saag paneer in one pan and five steps!
Saag paneer is a North Indian dish which features spinach and paneer (a fresh cheese) that is served with rice. Since I had no prior experience cooking saag paneer- I looked up several recipes online to see what I would need- and found that not only did I not have some of the required spices but I didn’t have ghee (clarified butter) either. So, I used a lot of short cuts & replacements which worked out great! To top that off, I was able to cut down the cooking time to about 45 minutes and only use one pan. Yay for less cleaning!!
To cut down on my time cooking and cleaning, rather than frying the paneer in oil or ghee, I fried it in butter – then continued using the same pan. As well, instead of making a special trip to the Indian grocery, I used Vegan in the Freezer’s recipe for Homemade Garam Masala and left out the other spices I didn’t have. Another time saver was using a pack of frozen spinach instead of blanching fresh spinach. Lastly, I used plain Greek yogurt and not milk or curd.
My recipe is adopted from Edible Garden’s Palak Paneer recipe.
Now- for my easy 1 pan, 5 steps Saag Paneer!
1 cup of cubed malai paneer
1 pack of frozen spinach
2 generous pats of butter
6-7 chopped garlic cloves
1/4 tsp of ground ginger
4 slices of ginger root
1 tsp of red chili powder * adjust spice levels to your own taste
1 tsp of coriander powder
1/2 tsp of ground cumin
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of garam masala
1 cup of traditional plain Greek yogurt
Step 1: Fry the paneer
Chop the paneer into thick cubes and fry to brown the sides. I used malai paneer from a local Indian grocery. Rather than use ghee or oil (I hate frying with oil) I used butter. Making ghee doesn’t look difficult, and that’s the only modification I will attempt with my recipe for the next time I go to cook saag paneer at home. Place the fried paneer off to the side to add later.
Tip: Chopsticks work great for grabbing the cubed paneer and flipping it to brown all sides (or at least two sides).
Step 2: Making the “sauce”
Using the same pan – add more butter as needed and fry the onions. Add the spices into the butter as you cook the onions so that the spices cook in the butter as well. Then add chopped garlic and ginger. I like a lot of garlic so I used 7 cloves of garlic. I didn’t want to mash the ginger root, so I used 4 slices of ginger root and 1⁄4 tsp of ginger powder. Cook until onions are translucent or golden.
Tip: If you feel that the pan is getting too hot and the butter (or spices) are burning, turn down the heat and/or add water to the pan.
Step 3: Add spinach
I used a pack of frozen spinach and defrosted it in the microwave then simply mixed it to the pan with the cooking onions. You could blanch, blend and add fresh spinach if preferred.
Tip: This is when I added salt. I like using a sea salt grinder and I salted with a light grind over the top of the pan.
Step 4: Add yogurt
Rather than adding milk or curd, I added traditional plain Greek yogurt. Add spoonfuls at a time to avoid a dip in temperature and to allow even mixing of the yogurt. I added about 3⁄4 cup of yogurt (adjust to your taste and preference).
Tip: If you think your yogurt is making it too wet and you prefer it thicker – add the yogurt slowly and let the excess water simmer off before deciding to add more yogurt.
Step 5: Add the paneer
Almost done! Add the fried paneer and mix it in evenly. Taste for salt and serve hot!
Tip: If your paneer became cold while waiting to be added, mix it in thoroughly and let it simmer for a few more minutes. The end result- a delicious dish you can serve with rice for lunch or dinner!
Did you try this recipe? Leave comments below and let us know the results!
About the author:
Rachel enjoys experimenting in the kitchen with tastes from around the world. She lives for travel and has studied abroad in Japan and South Korea. Currently, she’s helping others explore the world at her job at Ramblr.com. You can connect with Rachel on Facebook and on Twitter.