Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saag Paneer (Velvety Greens With Cheese/Tofu Cubes)

Saag Tofu
Emerald green Saag Paneer (pronounced "sahg puh-neer") is a classic Punjabi dish. It is a filling and nutritious dish which can be vegan if you substitute firm tofu for the paneer. Ginger is the predominant spice in this dish. The Punjabi cooks are very generous with butter but I add just enough to give it a bit of traditional flavor.

Other leafy greens such as amaranth, kale, Swiss chard, mustard/turnip greens, etc or frozen spinach or greens will also work very nicely in this dish - feel free to try them all. When using spinach or chard, I use the stems also - with spinach, the only part that is not used is the pink root end. Swiss chard stems will need cooking a bit longer so you might want to add them first and cook them until soft before adding the leaves.

Tip: To remove the seeds from a green chili, cut in half lengthwise and use a small teaspoon to scoop out the seeds along with the white pith. Use gloves when preparing chilies; also very important to wash hands well after handling chilies and avoid touching eyes and nose.


1 lb Spinach or other greens, finely chopped
1 lb Paneer/Firm Tofu, cubed
2 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Whole Cumin Seeds
1 large Onion, finely chopped
1 green chili (Serrano or Jalapeno), seeds removed and minced
2 to 4 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Red Pepper flakes
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
2 ripe Tomatoes, finely diced
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Garam Masala (use at the end)
1/2 tsp Sugar
Butter or vegan alternative, to serve


Heat a little oil (just enough to thinly coat) in a kadai or skillet and saute the tofu/paneer cubes until lightly browned. A well-seasoned cast iron skillet is great for this. The tofu/paneer can also be used without browning. Set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil in the kadai; add the cumin seeds when hot and cook until lightly browned and fragrant.

Stir in the onion, green chili, ginger, spices, and salt; cook until soft.

Add the tomatoes and cook until soft and saucy.

Add the spinach, cover and cook until wilted. You can puree the saag at this point if it looks too coarse or chunky - an immersion/stick blender is very convenient for pureeing right in the pan. Also be careful not to puree too much; a bit of texture would be good rather than a smooth paste.

Stir in the paneer/tofu cubes and simmer for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the garam masala on top and mix well.

Taste for seasonings; add the sugar if you wish, and more salt etc. as needed.

Serve hot with a pat of butter or vegan substitute if desired.

Saag Paneer is delicious served with any type of rice dishes or Indian breads like roti or naan. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it