Gary's Saag Paneer

Paneer is a commonly used Indian cheese usually described as homemade, and having a consistency roughly similar to medium or firm tofu. I've never made it myself, though I have a recipe (using vinegar to curdle the milk) that I may get around to myself. For this experiment, I used store-bought farmer cheese, which is both saltier and less firm than paneer. Hence the quotes in the title. It came out very tasty, and the cheese only separated slightly, though I have yet to see how it survives reheating.

The other difference is that usually saag paneer has the spinach thoroughly cooked to a dark green. This recipe calls for much less cooking, so that the color is a very bright green, with streaks of white from the cheese.

Here it is:
1 9oz package "Microwave-in-the-bag" baby spinach
1 package farmer cheese
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander
1/4 teaspoon whole cumin
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 tablespoon flour (I use Wondra for sauces)
1 cup milk
dash garlic powder or garlic salt

Microwave the spinach in the bag as per directions, erring on the light side. It should be wilted, but still bright green. Let it cool.

In the meantime, cut the cheese into 1-inch cubes. Grind the coriander and cumin medium-coarsely in a mortar and pestle.

By now, the spinach should be cool enough to empty into a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.

Melt the butter or margarine, and add the flour. Stir so that the flour is absorbed. Add the milk, and stir. Heat until just slightly bubbling, a low simmer. The flour is there to give it some body, but it doesn't need to be cooked until thick. Add in the spinach and the spices, stir until blended, keeping the heat at a low simmer. Adjust the spices to taste (you may wish to add more, as these quantities are on the small end), but keep in mind the cheese will add saltiness. When the taste is ok, toss in the cheese cubes, stir, and heat just briefly. You want the cheese to get warm, but not melt thoroughly. Keep on a very low heat until ready to serve.

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