Saag refers to an Indian vegetable dish in which spinach or other dark greens are stewed with ginger, garlic, fresh chiles and spices until meltingly soft. As the name suggests, saag paneer includes paneer, a mild Indian cheese that is firm enough to cook without melting. The heat of the serrano chiles balances the creamy richness, but for a milder dish, remove the seeds before mincing the chiles. The fresh greens are finely chopped before cooking, to help them break down faster into a silky gravy. Thawed chopped frozen spinach can be used to save time, but make sure to drain well and squeeze out the excess liquid first. Finish the dish with a little heavy cream (or plain yogurt) to lend body and richness.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1pound fresh baby spinach (about 8 packed cups)
- 2tablespoons ghee
- 8ounces paneer, cut into 1-by-1/2-inch pieces
- ½cup finely chopped yellow onion
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger (from a 2-inch piece)
- 2teaspoons grated garlic (from about 3 cloves)
- 1serrano chile, stemmed and minced
- ½teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼teaspoon ground cumin
- ½cup heavy cream
- Steamed rice and Indian flatbread, for serving
Step 1In a food processor, working in batches, pulse spinach until minced but not puréed. Do not pack the spinach too tightly or it won’t get evenly chopped. You should have about 3 packed cups of minced spinach.
Step 2Heat 1 tablespoon ghee over medium in a large nonstick skillet. When it shimmers, add paneer and cook, turning occasionally, until golden all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs or a fish spatula, transfer cheese to a plate, leaving as much ghee as possible in the skillet.
Step 3Reduce heat to medium-low, add the remaining 1 tablespoon ghee and the onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Step 4Add ginger, garlic and chile, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and well incorporated, 1 minute. Stir in coriander and cumin until well blended.
Step 5Add minced spinach and 1/2 cup water, and increase the heat to medium. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is completely soft and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 8 minutes.
Step 6Stir in heavy cream and paneer until well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Step 7Divide rice and flatbread among 4 shallow bowls or plates. Pass the saag paneer to spoon on top.