Saag paneer, saag referring to any greens in Indian cuisine, is usually made with spinach and paneer, an Indian cheese. You can choose to make it with any type of leafy green such as collard greens, chard, mustard greens or a mixture of a couple of greens. In this case it is made with spinach combined with an unaged Indian cheese, paneer. Paneer is made from curdled milk and some sort of fruit or vegetable acid like lemon juice. It has a high melting point. The paneer is sautéed until golden and a little crunchy on the outside.
If you cannot find paneer, you have two options to consider. One option is to make the paneer yourself at home. Or, you may be able to find a substitute such as halloumi, a cheese from Cyprus also with a high melting point, that can be grilled or fried like paneer.
The spinach is cooked, chopped finely, and combined with aromatics and spices such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, fenugreek and garam masala. I used cayenne pepper to spice it up but you may also want to use a fresh or dried hot red or green pepper.
A little heavy cream or a dollop of tangy greek yogurt at the end, smooths out the spices while enhancing their many complex flavors for this spicy and soul satisfying saag paneer.
The saag paneer can accompany or compliment many cuisines. I like to serve the saag paneer with lentils or dal such as my red lentil dal, and naan, a leavened flatbread which you can find at most grocery stores. I recently served the spicy greens with an Indian style fish curry and basmati rice which was scrumptious.