I made this meal for my in-laws last night and it was really wonderful. The Saag Paneer didn’t turn out as good as the saag I had at the restaurant but it was still really good. I think the recipe I have is different from what was used at the restaurant. I am going to try some different recipes and see if I can find one that’s closer to what I remember. Anyway, here’s the menu and the recipes follow.
Spiced Indian Tea
4 C all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
½ t baking soda
salt to taste
1 egg, beaten
6 T plain yogurt
3 T butter or ghee, melted
About 1 C milk
garlic, one chopped clove per naan you wish to be garlic
1 T poppy seeds, parsley, chives, or some other “decorative” herb type thing
1. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium mixing bowl.
2. Stir in egg, yogurt, and 2 T melted butter. Gradually stir in enough milk to make a soft dough.
3. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and put in a warm place 2 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 2 to 3 minutes until smooth, then divide dough into 8 pieces. If garlic naan is desired (and I suggest it), knead into each divided piece, one chopped clove of garlic.
5. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll out to make ovals about 6 inches long, pulling ends to stretch dough into shape.
6. Brush ovals with water and place wet side down on greased baking sheets.
7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until puffy and golden brown, then brush with butter and sprinkle with pretties. (I use chives to mark the garlic as garlic and leave the plain with just butter)
Paneer – Indian Cheese
2 quarts whole milk
¼ C lemon juice
vegetable oil for deep frying
1. In a large, deep pot over medium-high heat, heat milk. As soon as it reaches a full boil and foams up, remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Milk will split into curds and whey.
2. Pour contents of pot into cheesecloth (muslin) or dish towel (tea cloth) placed inside a colander. Keeping the curds in the cloth, tie a knot above their level and hang it over a kitchen sink. Let the whey drip for half an hour. Remove the knot, twist the cloth several times to tighten it, squeeze out any remaining whey, make a tight knot just above the paneer, shaping the paneer into a round ball. Keep it hanging for another 30 minutes.
3. Remove the paneer from the cloth. Now with the all the whey gone, it turns out into a firm ball. Store this in the refrigerator, 2 to 3 hours, for further solidification.
4. In a wok or deep saucepan heat oil at 350 degrees F
5. While oil heats, cut paneer into roughly ½ – inch dice. Deep-fry cheese dice, half at a time, in oil until light golden. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
1 recipe Paneer (see above)
2 packages (10 oz each) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and chopped finer
1 green chili (Serrano, Thai, or jalapeño), split lengthwise
1 t salt
1 C thinly sliced onion
3 T olive oil
1 t minced garlic
1 t minced ginger
1 C chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned, drained
1 t salt
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
¼ t ground turmeric
1/8 t ground red pepper (cayenne)
¼ C water
1 C water
¼ t Garam Masala
1. At least 2 hours before serving, prepare paneer. Set aside.
2. In a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, cook spinach with green chili and 1 t salt for about 5 minutes, or until spinach is well cooked and soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, fry onion in oil until edges are nicely browned. Add garlic and ginger and stir for another minute. Add tomatoes and 1 t salt, and fry until tomato pieces begin to break up.
4. Add the spice mixture and stir for a minute. Add ¼ C water and continue frying until all tomato pieces have softened and broken up.
5. Stir in cooked spinach. Add 1 C water and paneer and simmer until water is absorbed. Stir in Garam Masala and remove from heat. Taste for salt.
Preparation time: 30 minutes, not including preparation time for paneer
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 3 pounds with bone and skin
6 t ground coriander
2 t ground cumin
½ t ground red pepper (cayenne)
½ t ground black pepper
½ t ground turmeric
1 t salt
2 C thinly sliced onions
3 T olive oil
2 T minced garlic
2 T minced ginger
2 T olive oil, or more as needed
2 C chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned, drained
1 t salt
2 t poppy seeds, coarsely ground in a mortar and pestle
½ C water
1/8 t Garam Masala
1. Trim boneless, skinless thighs of fat and cut into 2-inch chunks. If only thighs with bone-in are available, remove skin and fat and cut thighs into 2 or 3 pieces each, bone in. Rub chicken pieces with mixture of ground spices and 1 t salt and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. In a deep heavy frying pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, fry onion in 3 T oil until edges are nicely browned. Add garlic and ginger and stir for 2 minutes until onion turns medium brown. Remove onion mixture from pan and set aside.
3. Add 2 T oil (more if needed) to pan and heat over medium heat. Add chicken pieces and stir for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add fried onions, tomatoes, and 1 t salt and simmer until tomato pieces become very soft.
4. Stir in crushed poppy seeds and water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Uncover and continue simmering for another 20 minutes, until sauce thickens and turns a darker shade of brown. Stir in garam masala, simmer for 1 minute, remove from heat. Taste for salt.
Preparation Time: 1 hour marinating + 1 hour cooking
Serves: 6 to 8
Spiced Indian Tea Mix
1 part black pepper (heaping)
1 part ground coriander (cardamom)
1 part ground cloves
1 part ground cinnamon
5 parts ground ginger
1 T plus 2 t black peppercorns
1 T cardamom seeds
1 T whole cloves
1 (1-1/2-inch) cinnamon stick
1/3 C ground ginger
Milk and sugar to taste
Mix spices together or if using whole spices: Put peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cloves and cinnamon in a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder with pestle. Add ginger and grind again a few seconds to mix. Add about ½ T of spice mixture to a pot of tea; leave in a warm place 1 to 2 minutes to brew. Serve hot, with milk and sugar.
Makes about 8 T (whole spices) spice mix, enough for 16 pots of tea.
NOTE: Store remaining spice mixture in an airtight container, in a dark cupboard to preserve flavor. It will keep 2 to 3 months.