Healthier Saag Paneer

Follow me on Twitter

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.

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

Simple Indian spices to have on hand: turmeric, coriander, cumin, and red chili powder, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, whole cloves.

1. Heat oil in large non-stick pan over medium heat, sautee onions until translucent, then add garlic, ginger, and spices. Sautee for another 2-3 minutes. The spices will brown and aroma will be pungent.

2. Liquefy washed/wet spinach  and yogurt (optional) in the blender until it’s smooth and creamy. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in batches. Gently pour into the pan of spices, stir well to blend the creamed spinach with spices. Simmer or medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

3. Chop the paneer into bite sized pieces and gently fold into the spinach. This is a checkpoint for salt. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes. Just before turning off the stove, add the lemon juice.

4. Garnish and serve. Eat with roti or rice. Eat slowly.

Garnish and serve. Serves 4

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.

3 thoughts on “Healthier Saag Paneer

  1. Pingback: Page not found | Club Dine In!

  2. love this dish! although I prefer veggies with more texture. will it be ok to just chop the spinach and not blend it?

  3. It can work, but you will not get the creamy, smooth texture and taste that saag paneer is famous for. Instead, you will have wilted spinach, will need to add water to the pan once you add the spinach, and the cooking time will be a lot shorter. You can try it and keep an eye on the pan, so not to burn the spinach.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s