It’s sad. Yet true. I am such a paneer fiend. I bet you £5 (that’s all I have) that my dad says to me tomorrow after reading this post, that I shouldn’t keep making paneer dishes. Of course he is right.
Moving swiftly on… I use a 1:1 ratio of saag (mustard leaves) to spinach because I prefer a more subtle mustard flavour, which can often overpower the dish. If you don’t use enough saag you will produce a dish resembling palak (spinach) paneer, which is equally delicious but technically not saag paneer. If you would like to add less saag you will create delicate flavoured curry which will not be as pungent as traditional dishes (such as sarson ka saag from north India). I love the combination of this hot, buttery and spicy green sauce with soft paneer (sorry dad) and I am sure many of you do too. Otherwise it would not be one of the most popular dishes on Indian restaurant menus all over the world. Imagine that… saag paneer takes over the world! = Heaven on Earth… but hell for our diets. Hey, we can’t have everything now can we?
Or can we? If you don’t think you can handle a heavy dish like this then you can always substitute the paneer for tofu, potatoes, chickpeas (channa/chole) or serve the saag and spinach puree on its own with makai ka roti like they do in north India. I enjoy my saag paneer best with this makai ka roti or if I’m feeling lazy… naan. Typical.
Oh and I have to add, I recently bought the worst immersion blender ever from a well known supermarket, not mentioning any names (ahem. The one whose adverts play the rubbish Take That song. Ahem). You could argue that you get what you pay for (£6) but if I buy something for even a relatively small amount of money (compared to other brands on the market), I expect it to actually work. It took 8 minutes of constant blending (with quick breaks) to get the soft, cooked leaves to become what you could call ‘pureed’. I would have gone on longer but I was afraid the motor may have burned out. So now I’m just going to pinch the one from home (sorry mum- I’ll give it back!) So that’s the wonderfully boring story of the rubbish, cheap immersion blender over with.
However, I digress. So yeah, back to saag paneer. Here’s my recipe, please do try it and let me know what you think!
Ingredients (Serves 4)
125g saag, washed and chopped with any tough stalks removed
125g spinach, washed and chopped
Pinch baking powder
Water as required
5 cloves garlic, minced (Mr leafy green’s best friend)
3 tbsp ginger, minced
4 green chillies, minced (I like it hot!)
1 large onion, finely chopped or minced
1 tomato, pureed
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp asafoetida
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp fennel powder
½ tsp star anise powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 cup paneer, cubed
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste (if required)
2 tsp butter (optional)
1. Boil your greens with a pinch of baking powder (this keeps it green!) until tender. Drain most of the water then puree, preferably with a blender which is better than mine. Set aside.
2. Heat the ghee in a large pan (I used a wok) and add the mustard seeds. Once they have popped, add the cumin, asafoetida, onions, garlic, chillies and ginger.
Allow this mixture to cook until the onions have lost all their shape and almost become dissolved into the paste.
3. Add the tomatoes, cumin powder and coriander powder. Allow this to cook in the same way as the onions.
4. When the mixture has reduced down into a soft paste, add the saag mixture along with the fennel powder and star anise powder. Cook this until the water has evaporated and the mixture oozes out oil. Add garam masala, salt and sugar if you need to. Bring the mixture back up to the consistency you would like and add cream and butter if you wish.
5. Add the paneer raw or cooked (I grilled mine slightly for some texture). Grab a roti, naan, paratha, bhatura, bowl of rice or even just a spoon… and munch away!
After having so much trouble with kitchen gadgets I have discovered my new found love for all things old skool. Traditional and reliable gadgets are the best! Which is why to one lucky reader, I am giving away a traditional Indian chilli chopper, like the one I have used in this recipe to mince not only chillies, but onions, garlic, ginger and even tomatoes! Please do not be fooled by its aged appearance, but rather charmed by its rustic form. Who needs fancy electrical techno wizardry when you can go back to basics and make life a little simpler? So here are the details of how to win a precious little gadget like this one.
All you have to do to win this little chopper is to produce a creative vegetarian dish of your own personal choice. That’s it. But remember, be creative!
1. Please state on the post that you are sending it to this competition and if possible, please use the logo (under the competition title). Only one recipe per person, please.
2. If you are using an archived recipe, please repost it stating that you are sending it to Sanjana @ KO Rasoi’s ‘Create for a Chilli Chopper’ competition.
3. Please try to add pictures to your recipe so that we can see how yummy and creative they are!
4. Please e-mail your entry, along with your name, the name of your blog and a link to the post on your blog to: sanju_modha (at) hotmail (dot) co (dot) uk. Non-bloggers can also enter by sending their recipes and pictures via e-mail.
5. Entries must be received by 31st December 2009 at 23:59 GMT. The winner will be announced soon after.
If you have any queries please do not hesitate to ask me!