40-Minute Saag Paneer
If you’re going to make saag paneer, skip the coconut-and-cashew-laden
“Saag paneer is one of the most requested recipes on my Instagram. The day I made it on my Instagram story, I received a deluge of messages and feedback from people who tried it and loved it,” Mishra says. “Saag (spinach) paneer is quite a staple in India, yet it’s so easy for something to go wrong. It’s all about balance with this one.”
Oh, and you’ll need to invest in a few new spices: Kashmiri red chili powder and asafetida powder give this dish its classic flavor.
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 dried red chilis, broken in half
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
12 garlic cloves, minced
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 green chilis, seeded and finely chopped
2 small ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder, divided
2 cups spinach puree (see recipe note)
7 ounces paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon ghee
¼ teaspoon asafetida powder (hing)
Cream, for serving
1. Heat the butter and oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the dried red chilis and the cumin seeds, and cook until they pop. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and cook for 10 to 15 seconds, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the onion and cook until it is pink and translucent.
2. Add the chilis, tomatoes, coriander and ½ teaspoon of the Kashmiri red chili powder. Cook until the tomatoes break down and the oil starts separating from the sides, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the spinach puree and stir well; season with salt.
3. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is fragrant, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the paneer and ¼ cup water, cover and cook for 4 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asafetida and remaining ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder. Let the spices sizzle until the asafetida is fragrant, about 5 seconds. Pour this mixture over the curry and immediately return the lid to the pot. Turn off the heat and let the curry rest for 5 minutes.
5. Just before serving the curry, stir it well and add a swirl of cream, if using.
Recipe note: Make a simple spinach puree by blanching about 1 pound raw spinach in boiling water for about 15 seconds, cooling it in ice water and then pureeing it in the bowl of a food processor or blender until smooth.