Monday, August 15, 2011

Saag Paneer

Oh a quiet, rainy Sunday, Rob decided to try his hand paneer – a soft, fresh cheese, common in South Asian cuisine.  His culinary skills didn’t stop there, and he made homemade saag, as well. The result was a fresh and flavorful dinner of saag paneer with all the gustatory adventures of a traditional Indian meal.  
Like ricotta, paneer is very easy to make and follows a similar procedure. First, bring whole milk to a simmer, then add about ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice. 
Next, stir the concoction until it separates, producing curds and whey. 
After that’s completed, pour the dairy mixture onto a strainer with cheesecloth and let drip out for about 5 minutes (and give it a quick rinse to wash off the lemon taste). After that, seal up the cheesecloth bag and place on a plate. Put another plate on top and weigh it down with a bag of beans or a large canned item. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. 
It’s that simple. Those few steps produce a lovely, firm disk of paneer. 
After the paneer was all ready, Rob made saag, a traditional a spinach and/or mustard leaf-based dish commonly eaten in Pakistan and India.
First, he marinated the paneer in a spice mix with some oil and let that sit. Then, he sautéed spinach, a fragrant spice mixture, onion, ginger and garlic for a few minutes to marry the flavors.  Finally, he added plain yogurt for that touch of creaminess.
Next, he seered the paneer and added it to the spinach mixture. 
To finish the dish, he added the paneer to the spinach and let it simmer for a few minutes. 
The result was a wonderful meal!
I’d definitely make this again (or in this case, have Rob make it and enjoy the results) and was surprised how easy Indian food is to make, how healthy it can be and importantly, how delicious the finished product is!

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