side dish, Side Dishes, vegetables

$1.75 and 30 Minute Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer is unquestionably my favorite Indian dish and my only complaint at restaurants is that I spend $12 and never get enough! Well, portion problem solved. In 30 minutes, for $1.75/serving I can make more than I can eat, know all my ingredients, and not have to share with anyone!

Ingredients (~8 Servings):

  • 2 lbs of frozen pre-cut organic spinach (~3 bags)
  • 3/4 lb of paneer, cubed to 1/2″
  • 1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup of yogurt (not Greek!)
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano peppers, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1+ TBSP of oil (I use grapeseed oil to sauté – see Apartment Chef Tips for rationale!)
  • 1+ TBSP of garam masala (3 parts: coriander, cardamom, black pepper; 2 parts: cumin, cinnamon; 1 part: cloves, nutmeg)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8+ tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Tools:

  • 10″ Non-stick sauté pan
  • Chef’s knife
  • Two medium bowls
  • One small bowl

Instructions:

  1. Steam bags of spinach in the microwave.
  2. Chop paneer into 1/2″ cubes. Put the cubes in a medium bowl along with turmeric, cayenne, a pinch of salt (<1/8 tsp), and just enough grapeseed oil to lightly coat the cheese. Mix together.
  3. Mix spices for garam masala in the small bowl.
  4. Remove veins and seeds from serrano peppers. Finely chop peppers, garlic, and onion. Put them in the other bowl along with the garam masala, ginger and ~1/4 tsp of salt. Mix together.
  5. Sauté paneer cubes on in the sauté pan over medium-low heat (~4 out of 10), stirring occasionally. Return to bowl once cubes are slightly browned on one side (~5min) and set aside to cool.
  6. Add a little grapeseed oil to the sauté pan over medium-low heat (~1 TBSP) and add the onion mixture. Sauté until onions begin to soften (~3 minutes).
  7. Add the spinach directly from the bags to the sauté pan along with the rest of the salt (~1/2 tsp), combine with the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally to cook some of the water (~10 minutes).
  8. Turn off burner and add yogurt in 1/4 cup scoops, stirring to combine in between each scoop.
  9. Add paneer and stir until combined.
  10. Enjoy! Preferably with some homemade naan!

Total time: 30 Minutes (15 minutes to prep, 15 minutes to cook)

Tips:

Step 1 – This task should be completed while working on Steps 2-5. The bags I buy usually take ~5 minutes to heat up. 3 bags = 15 minutes = time to prep paneer and vegetables!

Step 3 – Be sure to take a whiff of that homemade garam masala before adding it to the onion mixture. Smells pretty great, doesn’t it?

Step 4 – Be careful when deveining and deseeding those peppers! Use your knife as much as possible and wash your hand with warm water and soap immediately afterward. Definitely don’t rub your eyes!

Step 5 – No need to add any additional oil to the sauté pan for the paneer since they are already lightly coated!

Step 6 – No need to rinse out the sauté pan, take advantage of the turmeric and cayenne scraps!

Step 7 – Your goal is to cook out any liquid that has gathered at the bottom of the pan so that it is not too runny when you add the yogurt. Start your clean up now!

Cost:

  • 2 lbs of frozen pre-cut organic spinach ~$6
  • 3/4 lb of paneer, cubed to 1/2″ – $5
  • 1/2 large white onion ~ $0.50
  • 3/4 cups of yogurt (not Greek!) ~ $0.75
  • 6 garlic cloves ~ $0.25
  • 2 serrano peppers (optional) ~ $0.10
  • 1+ TBSP of grapeseed oil ~ $0.10
  • 1+ TBSP of garam masala ~ $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons ginger ~ $0.50
  • 1 tsp turmeric ~ $0.10
  • Cayenne, salt ~ negligible

Total Cost per Recipe ~ $14

Cost per serving (~8 servings) ~ $1.75

Conclusion:

I find this recipe truly demystifying. I thought Saag Paneer was an extremely complex process that could only be created in a commercial kitchen. So much so that not too long ago I purchased some frozen Saag Paneer only to be left extremely disappointed (safe to say I do not recommend…). But let’s break down the recipe: Sauté some onions-garlic-spices, add vegetables, and enjoy! Sounds surprisingly similar to plenty of other recipes out there. Moral of the story: You can do it! Try out this recipe for homemade Indian food, then follow your taste buds and create your own cuisine!

As always, make informed food decisions. Know your ingredients, know your costs!

 

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