Adapted from Sinful Curry
From my research on the web I understand that the difference between Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer is that if you only use only spinach it is a Palak (spinach) and if you use a mixture of green vegetables it is a Saag (greens). The paneer in the title is an Indian cheese with a very high melting point.
Note: If you do not live near an Indian market, paneer may be hard to come by. You cannot substitute American cottage cheese for paneer, because it melts into the dish in a way that paneer does not. Below I have added the instructions I have found for making paneer from scratch, if it is unavailable in your area.
There will be only four of us for this Sunday’s dinner, Chris is in NY, so I do not need to make as much of this dish as usual. Cutting out all of the other greens in my saag paneer, I am turning this is to a palak paneer (spinach with cheese). One thing I am not cutting back on is the cheese, that Miriam likes very much, so I guess this could really be called a Paneer Palak (cheese with spinach).
Miriam is on the Atkins diet, so I will not be making my usual pilao rice. To go with this dish, I am making a chicken curry and a carrot dhal. For the starch eaters, I have some store bought Indian naan.
Karl’s Palak Paneer II
12 oz. frozen spinach
½ tsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. coriander seeds
¼ tsp. fennel seeds
8 oz. of paneer
2 Tbs. clarified butter, separate uses
½ medium sized onion, chopped
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. ginger, grated finely
1 tsp. garlic, crushed to a paste
1 jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced
¼ tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. garam masala
1 Tbs. fresh mint, chopped
1 Tbs. cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. lemon juice
1. Blanch the frozen spinach, put it in a pot of cold water and then squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible and set it aside.
Note: Do not discard the hot water, you will need it to blanch the tomato.
Tip: While blanching washes away some of the nutrients in the spinach, it also reduces the very strong spinach flavor, which can overpower the dish. Of course, if you happen to like that flavor skip this step.
2. Cut a shallow X in the bottom of the tomato and blanch it for one minute.
3. Cool, peel, seed, and chop the tomato and set it aside in a bowl.
4. Cut the paneer into 3/8 inch thick slabs.
5. Lightly butter a griddle and toast the cheese on both sides until lightly brown.
6. Dice the cheese slabs and set them aside.
7. In a large sauté pan toast the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds for one minute. Remove to a morter and lightly crush the seeds.
8. Add the remaining clarified butter to the pan and sauté the onions with the salt until golden brown, about eight minutes.
9. Add the tomato, cumin, coriander and fennel powder, ginger, garlic, chili, turmeric, garam masala, and tomato to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes.
10. Add spinach and continue to simmer until the the spinach is fully cooked (about 10 minutes).
11. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
12. Stir in the mint and cilantro and use a blender or food processor puree the mixture into a coarse paste.
Tip: You may need to do this in batches.
Note: You are not going for a baby food puree, but you do not want it chunky either.
13. Return the mixture to the pan and stir in most of the paneer cubes and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
14. Let the mixture cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes to meld and bring it back up to temperature.
15. Remove to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining paneer cubes and serve immediately.
1 Qt. half & half
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1. Bring cream to a boil in a heavy pot.
2. Add the lemon juice and stir until the curds rise to the top and only clear liquid remains.
3. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
4. Strain contents of the pot through 3 layers of cheese cloth set in a fine sieve.
5. Tie up the corners of the cheese cloth to form a pouch and hang it from the faucet and gently twist and squeeze to remove the excess liquid.
6. Let the pouch hang for 30 minutes.
7. Remove the pouch to a board and form it into a block 4 inches wide and half an inch thick.
8. Fill a large pot with water and set it on the pouch to compress it for 2 hours.
9. Remove the cheese cloth and use.
Note: if you are going to fry the cheese, freeze it for one hour first to prevent it from crumbling.