Homemade Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer, an Indian spinach dish with fresh cow cheese, is one of my favorite foreign dishes. It’s creamy and spiceful (as opposed to spicy) and it’s got my favorite food — cheese!

My friend Mat loves to cook. Sometimes he lets me eat his delicious meals. Tonight we made this traditional Indian dish and it was fantastic. The cheese is surprisingly easy to make. I’ll provide the recipe. I’ll have to ask Mat to give me his recipe for the saag, but from what I watched him add, it seems pretty similar to this recipe by Tyler Florence, although Mat omitted butter and regretted it. :o( So below is a conglomeration of both paneer recipes.

Homemade Paneer 
Saag Paneer with Basmati Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients for the Paneer:
1 gallon of whole milk
3 Tbs. salt
juice of 1 lemon
up to 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar

For the Saag:
2 tbs. butter
2 packages of frozen chopped spinach
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 cup cream
2 teaspoons garam masala, or curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
salt to taste
3 cups basmati rice

Pour all of the milk into a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the salt. While the milk heats up, skim off any large amounts of foam (otherwise you won’t be able to tell if it starts boiling). Meanwhile, thaw out the spinach and squeeze out some of the liquid. Set aside. Place a large piece of cheesecloth in a colander.

When the milk starts coming to a simmer, turn down the heat and add the lemon, stirring constantly. If it doesn’t start to curdle in the next 30 seconds, add a swig of vinegar. Small curds should start developing rapidly. If the milk is still clear of curds, add another swig of vinegar. When you see lots of curds, it’s time to drain the milk into the cheesecloth. Let the liquid filter out and loosely gather up the edges of the cheesecloth so none of the curds escape. Do not squeeze the curds or the cheesecloth will stick to it and you won’t get as much cheese. Just let it rest for about 10 minutes. When it’s slightly cool, place the cheesecloth between two rimmed baking sheets and place a couple of cans of soup on top to weigh it down. Just leave it there till you’re ready to prepare the dish.

Prepare the rice according to the bag’s directions.

For the saag, heat the butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute a couple of minutes, then add the ginger and garlic and cook till onions are translucent. Sprinkle in the garam masala and cinnamon and cook about one minute. Add the spinach and mix well. Cook for about 5 minutes then add the cream. Give it a good stir and transfer to a blender. Blend till blended. Ha!

Cube up the cheese and add it to the pan, browning slightly on all sides. Return the saag to the pan. Serve over basmati rice.

One thought on “Homemade Saag Paneer”

  1. Did Tyler's recipe call for that much cinnamon? I only used like 1/4 tsp. Also we forgot about one step. Browning the cheese in a little bit of oil! -Mat

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