Most Americans know the Indian restaurant staple palak paneer, spinach with cheese. If you make the same dish and add other green vegetables to the spinach, or replace the spinach entirely, the dish becomes a saag (greens). A saag may be made from almost any green vegetable, today, I am using Lacianto kale.
Karl’s Kale Saag Paneer
1 lb. Lacianto kale, coarsely chopped
½ lb frozen mustard leaves
½ tsp. toasted cumin
½ tsp. toasted fennel seeds, slightly crushed
14 oz. of paneer
3 Tbs. ghee (clarified butter), separate uses
1 med sized onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. ginger, minced
1 tsp. garlic, minced
2 jalapeño chilies, minced
½ tsp. turmeric powder
½ tsp. coriander powder
1½ tsp. garam masala
2 Tbs. fresh mint, chopped
2 Tbs. cilantro, chopped
2 tsp. lemon juice
1. Blanch the kale, frozen mustard, and the tomatoes and squeeze as much water out of the greens as possible and set aside.
2. Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes and set them aside in a bowl.
3. Cut the paneer into ⅜ inch thick slabs.
4. Add a tablespoon of ghee to a griddle and fry the paneer slabs on both sides, until lightly browned.
5. Dice the slabs into ⅜ inch cubes and set aside.
6. In a large sauté pan toast the cumin and fennel seeds for one minute. Pulse the seeds in a spice grinder a few times to break them up slightly.
Tip: If you do not have a spice grinder, use a mortar and pestle to slightly crush the seeds.
7. Add the rest of the ghee to the pan and sauté the onions with the salt, until well browned.
8. Add the cumin, fennel, ginger, garlic, chilies, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, and tomatoes to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes.
9. Add all the greens and continue to sauté, until they are fully cooked.
Tip: About another 10 minutes.
10. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
11. Stir in the mint and cilantro and use a blender or food processor puree the mixture, in batches, into a coarse paste.
12. Return the mixture to the pan and bring the mixture up to serving temperature.
13. Stir in most of the paneer cubes and lemon juice.
Tip: Taste and add more salt, if necessary.
14. Remove the saag to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining paneer cubes and serve immediately.