Friday, April 10, 2009

Saag Paneer (Indian spinach cheese dish), from Gael

Saag Paneer (Indian spinach cheese dish), from Gael

from The Best of America's Test Kitchen, 2009

This is Rob's favorite Indian dish, and it's healthy, too. It sounds hard when you realize you have to MAKE YOUR OWN CHEESE to begin the recipe, but that is super simple and then you get bragging rights! Just remember to buy cheesecloth.

First, make the cheese:
3 quarts whole milk (can use low-fat but NOT skim)
2 1/4 t salt
5 T white vinegar

Put a colander in the sink and line it with triple layers of cheesecloth (just keep folding the cheesecloth over).

Bring milk and salt to a boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat (the bottom of your pan may scorch, mine did, but the brown layer did not mix in with the milk).

Stir in vinegar, reduce heat to low, cook until milk curdles, about 30 seconds.

Pour milk mixture through cheesecloth and let curds drain for 10 minutes.

Pull edges of cheesecloth up to form a pouch and twist pouch to drain water. A LOT of water will come out, you may want to keep going back and draining it. Place the taut, twisted cheese pouch between two large plates and press down the top plate with a heavy Dutch oven or similar weight. Wait 30 minutes. Unwrap cheese, slice into cubes. If you're not using cheese at once, it can stay refrigerated in airtight container for a day. Congrats! You just made cheese!

1 t garam masala
1/2 t ground cumin
1/4 t cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper

2 t vegetable oil
1 c minced onion (about one onion)
3 minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 t minced or grated fresh ginger
20 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed in a towel to drain
1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped fine
3 c water
2 T unsalted butter

Combine the garam masala, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne in small bowl.

Heat oil in large skillet till shimmering. Toast spices 10 minutes in oil. Stir in onion and 1/2 t salt and cook 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger, cook 30 seconds. Stir in spinach, tomato, 2 c of the water. Cover and cook until the tomatoes start to break down, about 7 minutes.

Separate the spinach mixture into thirds in the pan (so you can estimate how much a third is). Put one-third of mix into your blender along with 2 T butter (not melted, but I chopped it up) and remaining 1 c water. Puree about 15 seconds or until smooth. Pour puree back in pan and simmer until mixture is no longer watery, about 7 minutes.

Gently fold in the cheese cubes, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with white rice and naan bread.

First made this for Rob on April 10, 2009 because he always orders this at Indian restaurants. He loved it and it really wasn't hard, just had a lot of steps to follow. Rob says, "Delicious, satisfying, tasty and healthy!"

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