Prep: 10 Minutes
Cook: 30 Minutes
This is not a traditional Saag Paneer.
I’m leaving out ingredients like ghee (clarified butter used in a lot of Indian cooking), cream, and fenugreek. This way is a bit healthier. I use coconut milk instead of cream, and a mix of coconut oil and butter instead of ghee.
This dish is cheap. I made five meals for less than $15! I’m not factoring in buying the spices and oil (I already had them), but once purchased, they can be used for a long time.
This recipe can be doubled, and then you can freeze half of it to defrost at another time. This is a great thing to make on a Sunday, as it can last you a few days as both lunch and dinner.
Anyways, here we go:
1 cup of rice (suggest brown jasmine)
1 package naan bread (suggest whole wheat)
2-3 tbsp coconut oil
1 package of paneer (500g)
1 can coconut milk (100mL)
1 puck frozen spinach (150g-200g)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 inch ginger, grated
1 serrano pepper, chopped (seeds removed)
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp turmeric
2-3 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
salt to taste
cilantro for garnish (optional)
Follow package instructions for cooking the rice, but ensure you add some oil or fat and salt the water. Doing this goes a long way for the rest of the dish.
1. Put a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil.
2. Cut up paneer block into cube pieces.
3. Fry paneer in hot oil. Sprinkle turmeric over the cubes and gently stir them around. Once you have evenly coated the paneer with turmeric, let the cubes sit for a while. You want them to be crispy and brown.
4. Put paneer aside on a plate covered with paper towel (to drain fat). Leave pot on the stove.
5. There should be oil left in the pan—if not, add more.
6. Add chopped onions and garlic to the saucepan and sauté. Add ginger and the serrano pepper. One serrano pepper with most of the seeds removed is a medium spice–adjust accordingly to how spicy you want this. Add less of the pepper if you want it mild, or add the seeds to really get it hot. Stir often so that it doesn’t burn.
7. Put frozen spinach block in a bowl with a little water. Cover, and microwave for a minute or two to defrost.
8. After letting the pan sizzle away for around five minutes, add the garam masala and cumin. You want it to be thick and dark. Also, add the finely chopped peppers. Don’t add them too early or they will get mushy.
9. This is a very important step: let this simmer for at least ten minutes. The spices and the other ingredients are going to make some cool stuff happen. If you think the mixture is drying out, add water—maybe a quarter cup at a time. It will cook off.
10. Add the can of coconut milk and the defrosted spinach, and stir. These two things are going to give the dish its colour. Let that come to a boil, and allow it to simmer for a couple more minutes while continuously stirring.
11. Finally, add the fried paneer, and taste—add salt as needed. Don’t worry if you like adding a lot, it still will be way less than if you ordered this from a restaurant.
A few minutes before the Saag Paneer is done, toast your naan bread. You want this to be quite crispy and brown. Once toasted you can spread on butter or margarine. Then, cut a piece of garlic in half and rub it onto the naan.