I think saag paneer (greens w/ cottage cheese) or palak paneer (spinach w/ cottage cheese) was one of the first Indian dishes I had ever heard of. Maybe that and samosas. I can’t actually remember having it for the first time, but I’ve always known it existed and I feel like I’ve always known how it tasted…way back before I had ever had tikka masala or yellow dal! Unfortunately, my husband is not a huge cooked spinach fan so I rarely make palak paneer, but luckily he was in the mood the other night!
Paneer is Indian cottage cheese that has a really nice and soft texture when cooked right. It doesn’t have much flavor, so it needs to be super seasoned like paneer tikka or with a nice flavorful gravy. I used a whole package of paneer and it ended up being way too much! Therefore I recommend 1/2 a package tops.
There are so many recipes for making this online, most of which have you blanch the spinach separately. I skip this step by cooking everything down and blending it all near the end of cooking. Because I blend the onions, spices and spinach all together, I used ground spices instead of whole so that the texture is soft.
1 tablespoon ghee or oil
2 garlic (or 1-2 Trader Joe’s frozen garlic cubes (we were out of these))
2 green chilis
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder)
2 bags (~18 ounches) spinach
1/2 package (~6 ounces) paneer cut into little cubes.
- Heat ghee in a stock pan (I used a big pan because you need sooo much spinach to make just a little palak paneer and it fills up the whole pan until it starts to soften).
- Add onion and saute until translucent, adding the garlic and green chilis part way through cooking (if you’re using garlic paste or frozen garlic, add later on with the ginger paste).
- Add ginger paste, turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala, and amchur powder and cook for another minute.
- Add spinach and a little water and cook down until the spinach is all mushy.
- Throw everything in a blender and add a little water. Blend until smooth, then throw back into your pan.
- Throw the paneer directly into the spinach and heat until it is nice and soft.