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Saag Paneer is a creamy spinach curry with soft Indian cheese, bursting with authentic spices and flavors for a hearty vegetarian meal. Oak Spring Farm CSA members can use the organic spinach from your share!

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Yields6 Servings
Prep Time40 minsCook Time20 minsTotal Time1 hr

Ingredients

Saag Paneer (Indian Spinach with Cheese)
 1 lb Oak Spring Farm spinach!
 1 tsp tumeric
 ½ tsp cayenne powder
 kosher salt
 4 ½ tbsp ghee (clarified butter), or vegetable oil
 12 oz paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes (see notes for alternatives)
 1 medium onion, finely chopped
 1 1" fresh ginger, peeled and minced
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 1 large green serrano chile, finely chopped (see notes for alternatives)
 ½ tsp garam masala, store bought from the spices section or use the homemade recipe below
 2 tsp ground coriander (toast whole and grind fresh for the best taste!)
 1 tsp ground cumin (toast whole and grind fresh for the best taste!)
 ½ cup plain or greek whole milk yogurt, stirred until smooth
Homemade Paneer (fresh Indian cheese)
 cheesecloth
 8 cups whole milk (this won't work with reduced fat milk! Preferably use non-homogenized milk))
 ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Homemade Garam Masala
 spice or coffee grinder
 3 large cinnamon sticks
 1 tbsp whole cloves
 ¼ cup green cardamom pods, shelled, husks discarded (about 2 tablespoons of seeds)
 4 large black cardamom pods, shelled, husks discarded (about 1 tablespoon of seeds), optional
 3 tbsp whole coriander
 2 tbsp whole cumin
 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns

Directions

Instructions for Homemade Paneer
1

Line a large colander with a large double layer of cheesecloth, and set it in your sink.

2

In a large wide pot, bring the milk to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning the bottom (a nonstick pot works really well for this purpose). This will take a little while so be patient!

3

Turn the heat down to low and add the lemon juice. Stirring gently, you should almost immediately see the curds (white milk solids) and whey (the greenish liquid) separate. If the milk doesn't separate juice some more lemons and add another tablespoon or two. Boost the heat again and the milk should separate. Stir in a motion that gathers the curds together rather than breaks them up.

4

Remove the pot from the heat and carefully pour the contents into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Gently rinse with cool water to get rid of the lemon flavor.

5

Grab the ends of the cheesecloth and twist the ball of cheese to squeeze out the excess whey. Tie the cheesecloth to your kitchen faucet and allow the cheese to drain for about 5 minutes.

6

Twisting the ball to compact the cheese into a block, place it on a plate with the twisted part of the cheesecloth on the side (this will ensure your block of cheese is nice and smooth!) and set another plate on top. Weigh the second plate down with cans of beans or a heavy pot. Move to the refrigerator and let it sit about 20 minutes.

Instructions for Homemade Garam Masala
7

Place a dry pan over medium heat. Add the whole cloves, cardamom seeds, whole cumin, whole coriander, and peppercorns. Move the pan around to evenly toast the spices until they start to become fragrant, about 1 minute.

8

Combine all the spices into a spice or coffee grinder and grind until they are a fine powder. Store the spice mix in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.

Instructions for Saag Paneer
9

In a large bowl, whisk together the turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt (only if the cheese you are using is unsalted!) and 3 tablespoons oil. Gently, drop in the cubes of paneer and gently toss, taking care not to break the cubes if you're using the homemade kind. Let the cubes marinate while you get the rest of your ingredients together and prepped.

10

Chop the spinach up. Traditionally, this would be a very fine chop (pieces around 1cm square), but you can play around with how fine you like it (or how much time/patience you have!)

11

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and let it get warm. If you are using whole spices, this is a good time to toast (and then grind) the cumin and coriander seeds. Remove the whole spices from the pan.

12

Add the paneer mixture to the pan. In a couple of minutes give the pan a toss; each piece of paneer should be nicely browned on one side. Fry another minute or so, and then remove the paneer from the pan onto a plate.

13

Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the pan and turn it down to a medium-low heat. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and chile. Now here's the important part: sauté the mixture until it's evenly toffee-colored, which should take about 15 minutes. Don't rush this step - a slow browning of these ingredients is how you get a deep and rich flavor! If you feel like the mixture is drying out and burning, add a couple of tablespoons of water.

14

Add the garam masala, ground coriander and cumin on top of the browned onion, garlic, ginger, and chile. If you haven't already, sprinkle a little water to keep the spices from burning. Cook, stirring often, until the raw scent of the spices cook out, and it all smells a bit more melodious, 3 to 5 minutes.

15

Add the spinach and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach. Add a little salt and 1/2 cup of water, stir. Cook about 3 minutes with the lid on to wilt the spinach and then take the top off for another 5 minutes to cook off some of the water and focus the flavor.

16

Turn the heat off. Add the yogurt, a little at a time to keep it from curdling. Once the yogurt is well mixed into the spinach, add the paneer. Turn the heat back on, cover and cook until everything is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Serve with basmati rice and/or naan flatbread.

DifficultyIntermediate

Ingredients

Saag Paneer (Indian Spinach with Cheese)
 1 lb Oak Spring Farm spinach!
 1 tsp tumeric
 ½ tsp cayenne powder
 kosher salt
 4 ½ tbsp ghee (clarified butter), or vegetable oil
 12 oz paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes (see notes for alternatives)
 1 medium onion, finely chopped
 1 1" fresh ginger, peeled and minced
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 1 large green serrano chile, finely chopped (see notes for alternatives)
 ½ tsp garam masala, store bought from the spices section or use the homemade recipe below
 2 tsp ground coriander (toast whole and grind fresh for the best taste!)
 1 tsp ground cumin (toast whole and grind fresh for the best taste!)
 ½ cup plain or greek whole milk yogurt, stirred until smooth
Homemade Paneer (fresh Indian cheese)
 cheesecloth
 8 cups whole milk (this won't work with reduced fat milk! Preferably use non-homogenized milk))
 ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Homemade Garam Masala
 spice or coffee grinder
 3 large cinnamon sticks
 1 tbsp whole cloves
 ¼ cup green cardamom pods, shelled, husks discarded (about 2 tablespoons of seeds)
 4 large black cardamom pods, shelled, husks discarded (about 1 tablespoon of seeds), optional
 3 tbsp whole coriander
 2 tbsp whole cumin
 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns

Directions

Instructions for Homemade Paneer
1

Line a large colander with a large double layer of cheesecloth, and set it in your sink.

2

In a large wide pot, bring the milk to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning the bottom (a nonstick pot works really well for this purpose). This will take a little while so be patient!

3

Turn the heat down to low and add the lemon juice. Stirring gently, you should almost immediately see the curds (white milk solids) and whey (the greenish liquid) separate. If the milk doesn't separate juice some more lemons and add another tablespoon or two. Boost the heat again and the milk should separate. Stir in a motion that gathers the curds together rather than breaks them up.

4

Remove the pot from the heat and carefully pour the contents into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Gently rinse with cool water to get rid of the lemon flavor.

5

Grab the ends of the cheesecloth and twist the ball of cheese to squeeze out the excess whey. Tie the cheesecloth to your kitchen faucet and allow the cheese to drain for about 5 minutes.

6

Twisting the ball to compact the cheese into a block, place it on a plate with the twisted part of the cheesecloth on the side (this will ensure your block of cheese is nice and smooth!) and set another plate on top. Weigh the second plate down with cans of beans or a heavy pot. Move to the refrigerator and let it sit about 20 minutes.

Instructions for Homemade Garam Masala
7

Place a dry pan over medium heat. Add the whole cloves, cardamom seeds, whole cumin, whole coriander, and peppercorns. Move the pan around to evenly toast the spices until they start to become fragrant, about 1 minute.

8

Combine all the spices into a spice or coffee grinder and grind until they are a fine powder. Store the spice mix in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.

Instructions for Saag Paneer
9

In a large bowl, whisk together the turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt (only if the cheese you are using is unsalted!) and 3 tablespoons oil. Gently, drop in the cubes of paneer and gently toss, taking care not to break the cubes if you're using the homemade kind. Let the cubes marinate while you get the rest of your ingredients together and prepped.

10

Chop the spinach up. Traditionally, this would be a very fine chop (pieces around 1cm square), but you can play around with how fine you like it (or how much time/patience you have!)

11

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and let it get warm. If you are using whole spices, this is a good time to toast (and then grind) the cumin and coriander seeds. Remove the whole spices from the pan.

12

Add the paneer mixture to the pan. In a couple of minutes give the pan a toss; each piece of paneer should be nicely browned on one side. Fry another minute or so, and then remove the paneer from the pan onto a plate.

13

Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the pan and turn it down to a medium-low heat. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and chile. Now here's the important part: sauté the mixture until it's evenly toffee-colored, which should take about 15 minutes. Don't rush this step - a slow browning of these ingredients is how you get a deep and rich flavor! If you feel like the mixture is drying out and burning, add a couple of tablespoons of water.

14

Add the garam masala, ground coriander and cumin on top of the browned onion, garlic, ginger, and chile. If you haven't already, sprinkle a little water to keep the spices from burning. Cook, stirring often, until the raw scent of the spices cook out, and it all smells a bit more melodious, 3 to 5 minutes.

15

Add the spinach and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach. Add a little salt and 1/2 cup of water, stir. Cook about 3 minutes with the lid on to wilt the spinach and then take the top off for another 5 minutes to cook off some of the water and focus the flavor.

16

Turn the heat off. Add the yogurt, a little at a time to keep it from curdling. Once the yogurt is well mixed into the spinach, add the paneer. Turn the heat back on, cover and cook until everything is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Serve with basmati rice and/or naan flatbread.

Saag Paneer