The photo is downloaded off the web because I still can't download photos from my camera. And in fact, this photo looks very little like what I actually made, which is Saag Paneer, but that's what it said it was.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
What's saag paneer? Only the world's best way to use up tremendous amounts of mixed greens and fresh cheese! It's Indian food, which is one of my favorite cuisines, not only for the delightful spicy flavors, but also because it is so friendly to so many of the restrictions that I occasionally have to follow to accommodate friends and family. Indian food is easily adaptable for strict vegetarians, for the gluten-free crowd, and it is very very budget-friendly to boot.
Saag means (as near as I can tell) pureed greens (in Indian restaurants, saag means spinach, but actually many greens can be used - spinach, collard, mustard, chard, kale, or any blend thereof), and paneer means fresh cheese. These are things I have a lot of right now.
I am making fresh vinegar cheese (paneer) every other day or so, and I have to use it up somehow because it only lasts about ten days in the fridge. There are only so many quesadillas one family can eat - or should eat - so I had to find other ways of using the cheese. Also, I have three tires and one bathtub out in the garden which are absolutely stuffed full of mixed greens - mostly mustard and spinach. Once again, there are only so many bowls full of raw leaves one can eat.
For the past two years, the Kale Fairy was providing us with crazy-gigantic amounts of fresh greens, and in self-defense I developed a few recipes using as the only criteria how many pounds of greens could it absorb? Top among these is saag. And when you add in the criteria that a recipe must also use at least a pound of cheese, what you get is saag paneer.
-two or more pounds mixed greens, washed and roughly chopped. I like a mix of mustard, spinach, and collards.
- four or so cloves garlic
- a three-inch section of fresh ginger, peeled
- tablespoon black mustard seeds
- two or three fresh green hot chiles, jalapenos or serranos
- canola (or other neutral flavored ) oil
- one pound fresh vinegar-cheese (paneer), cut into one inch cubes
- salt and pepper
- cilantro for garnish
In a big stockpot, put all the washed chopped greens with the water clinging to them from washing. Cover and steam until well wilted. Drain well and set aside.
In blender or mortar and pestle, mix garlic and ginger and bland or mash the hell out of it, to a fairly smooth paste. Heat oil in a very large skillet and fry garlic-ginger paste with mustard seeds and green chiles (seeded and minced.). Add mustard seeds and stir for thirty seconds, until mustard seeds begin to pop.
Puree greens in blender until quite smooth. Pour greens puree into skillet and stir to blend. Turn heat to medium low and simmer.
Add paneer about ten to fifteen minutes before meal time. Let simmer. Season whole shebang with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over rice with fresh hot tortillas. Yum!