I have to note that paneer is not the healthiest food you can eat. Paneer is firm, mild Indian cheese. A three ounce serving contains 300 calories and 15 grams unsaturated fat. Though, paneer is also a good source of calcium, protein, and vitamin A. Paneer is a rare fresh cheese that doesn’t need a coagulating agent such as rennet and is easily made in households throughout northern India. It’s a cheese, to be enjoyed in moderation on occasion. You can substitute the paneer for tofu. The paneer dishes often found in restaurants is made with a lot of heavy cream and ghee/butter, making it unhealthier. I took a traditional recipe found on multiple sites and substituted ghee for olive oil (and drastically reduced the amount) and heavy cream for yogurt. I like to make this dish once in every two months, and keep a block of paneer in my freezer. Paneer can be found in Indian grocery stores and sometimes Whole Foods. I don’t use a heavy hand on the spices and keep the flavors subtle, yet mouthwatering. The key is in the freshness of the spices and vegetables. Indian food isn’t so daunting or a time-consuming process if you have all the basic ingredients at home. The yogurt is optional. When I want a truly light dish, I skip it. Simple Indian spices to have on hand: turmeric, coriander, cumin, and red chili powder, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and whole cloves. Store in an airtight container in the dark.
- 16 ounces paneer
- 2 lbs fresh or frozen spinach (fresh preferred)
- 1/2 cup yogurt (optional)
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp ginger, grated
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
- Salt and red chili powder to taste
- 1 tbs cilantro or edible flowers for garnish (optional)
The lemon juice is optional, but really helps to lift up all of the flavors without making the dish tangy. The marigold petals add a beautiful pop of color, sweet fragrance, and a taste that makes you want to go back for more. It’s unexpected, looks fancier than it really is and impresses. (Inspired by Hollie’s Homegrown). The flavors only become more intricate with time, so the Saag Paneer will taste even better the next day. Totally foodie moment: keep the cinnamon stick in the Saag Paneer and suck on it the next day. The flavors will be a sensual party in your mouth. Trust me.