At first glance, saag paneer looks simple enough: Stewed spinach topped with browned cheese. The fresh kind of cheese that doesn’t really melt.
But once you begin to make this dish, you realize there are layers to your saag. For example, it’s sweetened with the deep, rich undertones of tamarind. And before you cook your spinach down into a soft and stew-like consistency, you bring together onions, tomato, jalapeño, ginger, garlic, and cilantro. And then you sprinkle them with cinnamon, clove, cumin, turmeric, and black pepper.
Layers, folks. Layers.
If you’re new to Indian cuisine, saag refers to any dish made leafy green things. Such as spinach, collard greens, or mustard leaf. Paneer is a fresh farm cheese ubiquitous throughout South Asia. Set with some sort of acid and unaged, you could certainly make your own paneer. Or, if it’s easier to find, switch it out for a saltier Greek cheese known as halloumi.
While saag is usually served with bread like roti or naan, keep things gluten-free with this yucca plantain flatbread or pair your saag paneer with cauliflower rice.