Saag Paneer and Naan

India is very diverse, with over 1500 languages spoken and a population of over a billion people, it’s no surprise some amazing dishes come out of there! Considering it is such a big country, each region has different influences on dishes, such as southern India’s love of coconuts and the North’s love of yogurt. From curry to vindaloo, Indian dishes are known to be packed with flavor and have a kick that your taste buds will be sure to remember! Saag paneer is a classic north Indian dish that is made up of fried paneer cheese and a creamy spinach sauce. Who doesn’t like the sound of fried cheese?? Most Indian restaurants will have this delicious dish on their menu, but cooking it at home gives it an out of this world flavor. Most Indian dishes seem very complicated, but this dish has only nine ingredients! It is super simple to make, and you won’t sacrifice flavor. This dish is best paired with steamed rice, naan, and a tall glass of Riesling. Naan is an Indian style flatbread that can be paired with a variety of dishes, and it adds a nice touch if you’re looking for a quick, tasty, flavorful meal.

Saag Paneer

Ingredients: ¼ cup vegetable oil, ½ lb paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes, 1 onion, coarsely chopped, 1 fresh green serrano chile, stems discarded, coarsely chopped (don’t remove the seeds), 1 tbsp Madras curry powder, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 lb baby spinach leaves, 1 cup half and half

Steps: Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the paneer in a single layer and cook until starting to brown, then flip over and repeat on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible. Place the onion and chile into a food processor and pulse until minced. Add them to the skillet and sauté over medium heat until the onion starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the curry sauce and the salt, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Pour in the tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates. This is the best time to go ahead and get the rice cooking. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the spinach by the handful, allowing it to wilt before adding more. Repeat until all of the spinach has wilted. Stir in the half and half and the paneer. Simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve warm over rice or with naan.

Naan

Ingredients: 2 tsp dry active yeast, 1 tsp sugar, ½ cup water, 2½-3 cups flour, divided, ½ tsp salt, ¼ cup olive oil, ⅓ cup plain yogurt, 1 large egg

Steps: In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and water. Stir to dissolve then let sit for a few minutes or until it is frothy on top. Once frothy, whisk in the oil, yogurt, and egg until evenly combined. In a separate medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the salt. Next, pour the bowl of wet ingredients to the flour/salt mixture and stir until well combined. Continue adding flour, a half cup at a time, until you can no longer stir it with a spoon (about 1 to 1.5 cups later). At that point, turn the ball of dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the ball of dough for about 3 minutes, adding small amounts of flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. You’ll end up using between 2.5 to 3 cups flour total. The dough should be smooth and very soft but not sticky. Avoid adding excessive amounts of flour as you knead, as this can make the dough too dry and stiff. Loosely cover the dough and let it rise until double in size (about 1 hour). After it rises, gently flatten the dough into a disc and cut it into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a small ball. Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Working with one ball at a time, roll it out until it is about ¼ inch thick or approximately 6 inches in diameter. Place the rolled out dough onto the hot skillet and cook until the bottom is golden brown and large bubbles have formed on the surface. Flip the dough and cook the other side until golden brown as well. Stack the cooked flat bread on a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm as you cook the remaining pieces. Serve plain or brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with herbs!

 

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