This is a saag paneer that uses a truckload of spinach, gets tang from buttermilk and a finishing squeeze of fresh lemon, magic from a host of spices, and a bit of heat from ginger and chile flakes. I bring on a bit of crunch and contrasting texture where ever I can – paneer, toasted sesame seeds, and add a touch of decadence with a splash of cream (you can use yogurt, buttermilk, or cashew cream if you like).
Saag Paneer Inspiration
A bit of context. We make saag paneer at home all the time. I’m talking once a week or every ten days. Wayne started it, years ago, when he cooked Merrill’s saag paneer one night, and from there it became a regular thing. The recipe has evolved and meandered quite a bit, so I thought I’d share the version I’ve settled into with you. I try to make it exactly the way I want to eat it, because, at some point, personal preference trumps everything else. Even when you’re dealing with a classic preparation. I also featured another, different, streamlined version in Near & Far (also great!) a few years after this.
To that end, for this take on saag paneer, I cook the paneer cubes until they aren’t just golden, they need to go well beyond that. I like them crispy cornered, and outright crusty. Beyond that, I chop the mountain of spinach you need here into flecks the size of big confetti. This assures no slurpy, sloppy, un-chewable greens. And I (almost) always use fresh spinach, but you can do a (more traditional) blend of mustard greens, chard, etc. if you like!
It is the sort of thing that is even better the day after – spread on thin crackers, or inside this sort of quesadilla. You make your own spice blend here, but you can certainly experiment with your own or a good store-bought blend.