I was trying to decide what to write for my first post on this food blog. I wanted to make a splash, a big to-do and so I decided to swing for the fences and go with a cuisine I’ve never cooked before.
I settled on Saag Paneer for a couple of reasons: I’d eaten it a ton of times and so this gave me an irrational comfort level in making it, and also it seemed just impressive enough to garner some ooh’s and aah’s. Just look at the deliciousness that awaits:
Decision in hand, I was off to the internet to find a recipe when everything came to a screeching halt. I was reminded that paneer is cheese, and so I would have to MAKE CHEESE – which is obviously impossible. Cheese can only be purchased from a store, or spirited away from work events in leftover tupperware. Case closed, blog over.
But just in case, I did some further research and was pleasantly surprised! Turns out cheese, is incredibly easy to make and I wouldn’t have to wait 36 months for my dinner. In fact, you can make paneer with essentially three ingredients and twenty minutes:
That’s right, I MADE CHEESE. I felt like Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam, and just like Westworld taught us – the inspiration was within me all along! After letting my wad of cheese rest for a bit, I chopped it up and fried it in a pan. I considered stopping there and just eating a plate of fried cheese…and…may..have..kindof…
Anyway, cheese conquered, I was ready to tackle the meat of this dish – by which I mean the vegetables. Everything else was pretty simple and straightforward: chop spinach, dice onions, garlic and a pepper:
Combine a bunch of spices you’ve never heard of (fenugreek?!), and toss it all in a pan to commune and get freaky together. Once your vegetables are done getting to know one another, throw the paneer back in and let them join in the fun. Then scoop it all into a bowl over rice, or with some naan. I opted for the store-bought variety because I am not a machine OK?
Pitfalls: One thing that I wanted to do with this blog is point out the potential pitfall you inevitably run into when cooking a dish. Sure the recipe says to cook my potatoes for 8 minutes until tender, but they’re still rock fucking solid at that point and my onions are pretty much burnt to hell. So I’m going to go over things I found particularly perilous or tricky.
- Cheese cloth – this is necessary in order to make the cheese, and seems like it’s pretty straightforward in its use. Be warned, however much cheese cloth the recipe says to use double that, maybe even triple it. Snuggle that cheese up in your clothy blanket of love. Trust me, better to use too much than too little.
- Spinach – when I first read this recipe and saw it called for frozen spinach my initial reaction was SCOFF. A gourmand like me does not use frozen spinach, so I bought what I assumed was more than enough of the fresh variety. Turns out, you need to use a metric crap ton of fresh spinach to equal 16oz of frozen spinach. To my chagrin, I was forced back out to the grocery store to buy frozen spinach, conceding defeat.
The Verdict: I declare this recipe dope AF. It was healthy, filling and elicited the proper amount of appreciation from those who ate it. Cooking Indian food in general is actually pretty damn cheap once you’ve invested $65 in random spices. Side bonus – your entire house will smell like Indian spices for the next few days! It’s like having a masala-scented candle you can’t blow out, wooooo!
Thanks for sticking with me through this first post. I’m sure it must’ve felt more like a slog paneer…(waits for laughter to die down), but I promise things will only improve with time!