In the past 6 years, Kels and I have moved around a lot. First we were living together in Hyde Park, NY. Then we moved across the pond to Scotland and have pretty much moved house every year since being here. It's not fun moving house, and even less so when you've got a lot of stuff to move. But we've gotten pretty good at it.
One of our 'settling in' rituals when we get to a new place is to make Sag Paneer. Something about the smell of it cooking, and the overall comfort it gives us makes the moving blues, or any blues for that matter, go away. As Kels says, 'all is right with the world after a bowl of Sag.'
The recipe i have below is based on the one in Yamuna Devi's The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. Btw, that book is a treasure trove of recipes. I usually substitute paneer cheese with tofu and it works fine. We always have Sag with the same accompaniments -- steamed basmati rice and cucumber raita.
1 large cucumber, peeled and shredded
1.5 cups yoghurt (we like greek style)
1 teabag mint tea, or fresh mint leaves
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp turmeric
3 cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 chilli (if there is scotch bonnet i use that, or use any available)
1 packet paneer cheese or firm tofu
100g freshly grated grana padano cheese or pecorino romano
1 tsp garam masala
- salt the grated cucumber and place in a colander for about 20 minutes so the liquid can drain away.
- toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant and starting to colour. remove from pan and grind in a mortar and pestle.
- whizz together the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, and chilli with a little water to make thick spice paste
- heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a wok or large frying pan and fry the spice paste until fragrant. add the spinach and cook over high heat until wilted
- transfer the wilted spinach to a food processor or blender and whizz until a thick puree.
- meanwhile, heat some more olive oil in the same wok or frying pan and add the cubes of paneer or tofu. fry until starting to colour. turn the heat down to low and add the spinach puree. let this cook on very low heat for about 5 minutes while you finish the raita.
- squeeze out as much liquid from the grated cucumber as you can and transfer the cucumber to a bowl. add yoghurt and mint.
- heat the sesame oil in a small pan until smoking. add the black mustard seeds and fry until they start popping. immediately pour the oil and seeds into the bowl of cucumber and combine everything well.
- finish making the sag. add the grated cheese and stir until completely melted. taste and adjust for salt. stir in 2 tsp garam masala just before serving.
- serve the sag over steamed basmati rice and top with raita.