A Nepalese Classic
Limes and Garam Masala Essential
Saag Panir साग पनीर is a dish made from soft Panir cheese and Spinach or other greens in the cuisines of Northern India and Nepal.
Recipe adapted from Mrs. Ratna Sarat, head of the Yak and Yeti Hotel, Kathmandu. This recipe makes enought for six to eight servings and takes about 20 minutes to prepare and anther 20 minutes cooking time.
1½ cups Panir
2 pounds Spinach with stems removed
2 tablespoons Ghee, clarified Butter, or Vegetable Oil
1 tablespoon ground Coriander
1½ teaspoon Cumin seeds
½ teaspoon Turmeric
1 large Onion, finely chopped
3 large Tomatoes, peeled, seeded, finely chopped
1½ cup Water
1½ – 2 teaspoons Salt
1 finger fresh Ginger Root, about an inch long
½ teaspoon Gaam Masala
Fresh Lime Juice, to taste
First cut the Spinach into small pieces. You may substitute 2 10-ounc packages of frozen spinach, which may be used directly from the packet, after cutting it up a little.
Peel the Ginger and chop it finely. Peel and seed the Tomatoes and chop them finely. Chop the Onion finely
Arrange and lay out the spices and other ingredients.
Next heat the Ghee or other oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, almost smoking. Add the Coriander, Cumin Seeds and Turmeric – they will sizzle. Stir constantly until they are browned and smell aromatic, which will take only take a few seconds, taking care not to burn.
Immediately add the Onions and Tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring until the Onions are well browned, but not burned.
As soon as the Onions are done, add the Water, Salt and Ginger. Reduce the heat and stir to dissolve the Salt. Then add the Spinach and simmer, covered, 8 to 10 minutes, until the Spinach is tender. Check the consistency; it should be thicker than soup, but not like a purée. It may be necessary to add a little Water to get the cnsistency right.
A few minutes before serving, add the Panir, Garam Masala and Lime Juice. Cover and heat briefly until the Panir is heated through. Check the seasonings and serve immediately.
If the dish is being prepared in advance and will not be served right away, do not add the Panir, Garam Masala and Lime Juice until just before serving it.
This dish could be served in a meal with several vegetable dishes and a salad, Yellow Lentils with rice along with Nepalese or Indian Breads like Puri and Phulka. Dessert could be a sweet similar to a Rice or Semolina Pudding with Fruit like fresh Mandarin Orange and later Tea. One might also add a Chutney or Raita, a Yogurt dish with chopped Cucumbers.
As soon as the Onions are done, add the Water, Salt, and Ging