From my research on the web I understand that the difference between Palak and Saag Paneer is that if you only use only spinach it is a Palak and if you use a mixture of greens it is a Saag. When people come to Silicon Valley, they bring their food with them. As Californians we often feel it necessary to mash these recipes up with other cuisines. Today, I am doing an Indian shepherd’s pie, a mash up of Indian and English cuisines. I am thinking of making my palak a bit more French by adding wine.
I usually start with frozen spinach, simply for the convenience, but today I decided that fresh was the way to go. I am leaving out the other greens that I usually use in this dish, so the spinach will have to stand on its own. I also usually blanch the greens and wash away much of the strong spinach flavor (and vitamins), this time I plan to try to keep everything in.
A big secret to a good palak paneer is not to skimp on the cheese. There should be a bit of cheese in every bite. Use the entire 14 oz. of cheese for each dish.
Karl’s Palak Paneer
12 oz. fresh spinach
½ cup dry white wine
14 oz. of paneer
½ tsp. coriander seeds
½ tsp. toasted cumin
½ tsp. toasted fennel seeds, slightly crushed
3 Tbs. clarified butter
1 med sized onion, chopped
1 holy mole chili, diced fine (or 2 Jalapeños)
2 tsp. ginger/garlic paste
½ tsp. turmeric powder
½ tsp. Indian chili power
1½ tsp. Karl’s Garam Masala
2 tsp. lemon juice
Pinch Kosher salt, to taste
1. Add the spinach and ½ cup of white wine to a large pan. Cover and steam/sweat the spinach until well wilted. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes.
2. Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes and set aside in a bowl.
3. Cut the paneer into 3/8 inch thick slabs. Butter a griddle and toast them on both sides until lightly brown. Dice the slabs and set aside.
4. In a large sauté pan toast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds for one minute. Remove to a mortar and slightly crush the seeds.
5. Add the clarified butter to the pan and sauté the onions until starting to pick up some color.
6. Add the diced chili and continue sautéing until the onions are golden brown.
7. Add the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds, ginger, garlic, chilies, turmeric, and tomatoes to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes.
8. Add the spinach and continue to sauté till they are fully cooked (about 10 minutes).
9. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
10. Use a standing blender or food processor puree the mixture, in batches, into a coarse paste.
11. Return the mixture to the pan and stir in most of the paneer cubes, the garam masala, and the lemon juice. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Let the mixture cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes to meld and bring it back up to temperature.
12. Remove to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining paneer cubes and serve immediately.