Saag aloo with homemade paneer recipe image

Print Saag aloo with homemade paneer

It is really easy to make your own homemade paneer, or soft whey cheese, often used in Indian style dishes. Ideally, make it the night before you eat to give it time to press and firm up a little. If you don’t have time, you can make it on the day, it will work if made and used immediately or with an hour or two’s pressing, it will just be a little softer. If you like, save the leftover whey and use it instead of water to thin down the saag aloo.

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons
  • 1 litre milk
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large or 2 smaller garlic cloves
  • Piece fresh ginger
  • Oil for frying e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 500g potatoes
  • 200g baby spinach
  • Saag aloo spice pot containing:
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds,
  • 1 tsp ground cumin,
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • Salt
  • 100ml yoghurt
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 pack pitta bread

Method

  1. Make the paneer: Lay a clean tea towel in a sieve to line it and place the sieve over a large bowl. Keep it to one side. Juice 1 lemon into a separate small bowl. Put the milk in a saucepan and bring it almost to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Gradually stir in enough lemon juice (about 1-2 tablespoons) until the milk curdles and the curds separate from the liquid whey. Tip the contents of the pan into the sieve so the whey drains into the bowl and the curds stay in the tea towel.
  3. Gather up the cloth, twist it up and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Leaving the mixture in the sieve over the bowl, place a saucer with something heavy on top to weigh it down e.g. a tin of beans. Keep it in the fridge, ideally overnight or for an hour or so.
  4. The longer it’s left, the firmer it will be (see cook’s note). Leave the whey to cool too if you like, then store it in the fridge for later - see cook’s notes. To make the saag aloo: Peel and finely slice the onion. Peel and finely chop or crush 1 large or 2 smaller garlic cloves.
  5. Peel and finely grate the ginger. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan, one with a lid. Add the onion and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. Add a splash of water if it looks like it might catch at any point.
  6. Peel and dice the potatoes into 2-3cm chunks. Keep them small so they don’t take too long to cook. Once the onions have cooked for 10 minutes, add the saag aloo spice pot, garlic and ginger to the onion. Stir for 1 minute. Add the potatoes, chilli flakes (to your taste for heat), 200ml water (or use 200ml of leftover whey) and a good pinch of salt.
  7. Bring up to a low boil. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your potato chunks. You want the potatoes to be just tender. Stir regularly to stop it catching and keep an eye on the liquid level. Add a splash more water if needs be.
  8. Meanwhile, finely zest half a lemon. Stir into the yoghurt along with the dried mint. Wash the spinach. Once the potatoes are tender, gradually add and stir the spinach in until just wilted. Taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice and more salt to taste if needs be.
  9. Toast the pitta until slightly crispy. Use as many pittas as you fancy. Serve the saag aloo with the paneer roughly crumbled over the top, a good dollop of yoghurt and the pitta on the side.

Cooks notes

You may notice the paneer does not feature in the photo; too much food chat was going on in our studio kitchen, not enough focus on the photo. When we realised later, it had all been eaten. Oops!
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