Paneer is a type of fresh cheese used often in Indian & Afgan cooking and which is happily much more readily available these days! It is made in a similar way to ricotta and then pressed into a slab so it’s a light and healthy way to get protein into your diet. It is often served as a side dish with a creamy spiced spinach in indian restaurants but they generally just add it to the spinach without browning it first – which for me is rather sad as you lose the opportunity for extra flavour and texture.
This is not a traditional recipe – it is my own version of this dish and you can adapt it how you like. You can add some chili to give it more spice and also add more cream if you like a richer version.
Serves 4 as part of a meal with other dishes
200g block of paneer
1 tsp curry spice mix mixed with 1 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 Onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
5 cm piece of ginger finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 ripe medium tomato
400 g fresh spinach wilted with moisture pushed out
1/2 cup single cream mixed with1/4 cup water
Marinade the paneer with the curry spice mix, a pinch of salt and olive oil and leave to one side.
Peel and finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger.
In a medium sized pan on a medium-low heat, add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the cumin seeds, fry for 1 minute, then add the onion and cook for around 8 minutes, or until softened.
Stir in the garlic, ginger and garam masala. Halve, deseed and very finely chop the tomato, add to the pan and cook for a further 8 minutes, or until softened but not coloured, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the wilted spinach, cover and cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the cream and a 200ml of boiling water.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 5 minutes with the lid off, or until reduced to a deliciously creamy consistency. Add the zest and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. You can leave the consistency as is but I like to blend mine with a stick blender for a creamier consistency.
Drizzle a lug of oil into a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the paneer and fry for 5 minutes, or until golden, turning frequently. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a double layer of kitchen paper to drain.
Arrange the cubes of crispy paneer over the saag and serve with flatbreads, rice and other dishes as part of an indian feast.