Mustard Green Saag Paneer, is the last in a series of six recipes inspired by Vegetables From Down The Road.
Saag Paneer is one of my favorite dishes. The word Saag means any leafy green vegetable. Paneer is an Indian farmer’s cheese, which many Indians make at home. Click on Paneer (Indian Cheese) to check out my recipe.
If you don’t want to make it, you can buy Paneer in an Indian market. I have even seen it at my local super market, but the quality is not as good as when you buy it at the Indian market. If Paneer is not available, feel free to substitute, scallops, shrimp or baby red potatoes.
When Saag Paneer is made with spinach, it is called Palak Paneer. Palak means spinach. In Punjab, where I am from, the classic Saag is made with Sarson, which is an Indian mustard green. This recipe is the classic Punjabi dish, inspired by the American mustard greens that were available in my beautiful vegetable basket.
- 1 large bunch of mustard greens
- 1 cup of frozen finely chopped spinach
- 1 cup of paneer pieces (the one’s you see in the photo are home made. They have been coated with my Indian Spice Mix and pan fried in grape seed oil. This step adds extra flavor but you can skip it and use the paneer plain.)
- 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. You can buy it at the store, or if you want to make your own click on My Mom’s Yogurt.
- 2 Tbsp of tomato paste
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 inches of ginger root
- 1 inch of turmeric root (if you cannot find fresh turmeric, use 1/2 tsp of powder.)
- 3 chili peppers (used whatever variety you have on hand – here I used a fiery hot scotch bonnet and 2 mild orange baby bells.) Mixing up the peppers lets you control the heat level and results in a more complex flavor.
- 1 Tbsp of dried pomegranate seeds ground in a spice grinder
- 1 tsp of black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp of cumin seeds
- 1 tsp of red chili flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp of cinnamon powder
- 2 tsp of garam masala
- 2 Tbsp of ghee (use grape seed oil if you don’t have ghee.)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Wash the mustard greens to get rid of any gritty dirt. Then tear the leave off the stems.
- Dice the onion
- Mince the ginger root, garlic and chili peppers
PREPPING THE SAAG MIXTURE:
- Put the mustard leaves in a food processor and give them a whiz. You may have to add a little water to help turn them into a paste.
- Add the frozen spinach and whiz it again to incorporate.
- Coat a large stainless steel pot with ghee. Place the pot on medium-low heat to let the ghee melt.
- Add the onion, ginger, garlic, chili peppers, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chili flakes and garam masala.
- Grate in the fresh turmeric root, using a mini grater or a micro-plane. If you are using powdered turmeric add it when the tomato paste is added so that it does not burn.
- Saute until the onions get translucent. About 5 minutes.
- Make a hot spot in the center of the pan by pushing the veggies aside and add tomato paste.
- Let the tomato paste cook for a minute and then stir it into the veggies.
- Add the saag mixture
- Sprinkle in the cinnamon and ground up pomegranate seeds
- Cook on low heat until the mixture turns dark green. Stir occasionally while cooking. This should take 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the yogurt and stir it in
- Continue to cook on low, stirring occasionally until the saag starts bubbling
- Add the paneer pieces
- Gently toss to incorporate them into the saag without breaking them
- Cover with the lid and turn the heat off. Let sit until ready to serve.
The residual heat will bring the paneer up to the correct temperature without overcooking it. Overcooked paneer becomes rubbery, so it is best to bring it up to temperature gently. The residual heat will also allow all the flavors to marry. This technique of marrying the flavors together is called “DHUM” in Hindi. DURING THE “DHUM” PERIOD DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO REMOVE THE LID TO TAKE A PEEK. Removing the lid will let the heat escape and ruin the process of marrying the flavors together. As a child, I always wanted to lift the lid. My mom or my grandma would stop me. Now since they are only with me in spirit, I have to stop myself. 💕 I got a little sentimental writing this.
Saag is traditionally served with Makki Di Roti, a flat unleavened Punjabi bread made from corn meal. I usually visit my family in India during the winter months when it is Sarson Saag season. I eat it almost every day, but I skip the Makki Di Roti, because I lead a Ketogenic Lifestyle which does not allow corn. Occasionally, I cheat and take just a small bite. 😊 Here is a photo of my favorite Punjabi meal from my favorite Punjabi Dhaba (roadside restaurant.)
To make a complete Ketogenic meal, I serve it with Amritsari Masala Fish for me, since I am a pescatarian. For my husband, who has to have meat in his diet, I serve it with Amritsari Masala Lamb Chops. Lamb and Saag is a classic combination.
The spice mixture for the lamb chops is a little bit different than the one for the fish. I will be posting the lamb recipe on Saturday, August 1st, 2020. Be on the lookout for it.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed my story and recipe. Please give me your feedback in the comment section. I always love hearing from you.
Bye for now 🖐 Have a great day !!!