Saag Paneer from ‘Somewhere South’

Saag paneer prepared by Rakesh and Archna Anand at their home in Cary for the greens episode of "Somewhere South," a PBS show starring chef Vivian Howard airing at 9 p.m. Fridays. The greens episode airs on Friday, April 24.

This recipe comes from Rakesh Anand, a retired physician in Cary. He and his wife, Archna, showed Vivian Howard how they make saag paneer on the greens episode of “Somewhere South,” which airs Friday, April 24, at 9 p.m.

In the program, Howard serves as both student and guide, exploring cross-cultural dishes through the professional and personal relationships she has with Southerners of many backgrounds. Each episode examines the connectivity of a single dish — from dumplings to hand pies, porridge and more — and the ways people of different cultures interpret that dish while expressing the complex values, identities and histories that make up the region.

Along the way, she meets new friends and teachers, and discovers “how breaking bread and sharing a meal can create a comfortable place to have meaningful, memorable conversations.”

North Indian (Punjabi) Saag Paneer

Recipe notes: Sarson ka Saag and Haldiram’s fresh paneer are available at most Indian grocery stores. Toast the chickpea flour in a small skillet over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes until it is a light tan color; stir carefully because it can easily burn.

Yield: 12 servings

8 ounces fresh spinach 
12 ounces fresh rapini, also called broccoli rabe
15 ounces frozen collard greens
1 (16-ounce) can Sarson ka Saag
4 tablespoons toasted chickpea flour
4 tablespoons oil
2 dry red chiles
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 cup finely diced onions
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon Knorr Caldo de Tomate bouillon or salt to taste 
1 cup freshly pureed tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) block fresh paneer, such as Haldiram’s, cut into ½-inch cubes

Place all rinsed, chopped greens and the Sarson ka Saag in a pressure cooker
. Fill the empty Sarson ka Saag can twice with water and add to the greens. 
Add the chickpea flour
. Stir to combine and cook for 7 to 10 minutes. Drain greens in a colander set over a bowl to save residual liquid. Once cooled, puree greens mixture in a food processor and set aside. 

Preheat oven 350 F degrees. 

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add dry red chile peppers and saute until dark
. Add cumin seeds and saute further until darkened
. Add onion and jalapeño and saute until onions are browned
, about 5 minutes. Add ginger and 1 tablespoon water and saute another 4 to 6 minutes, until lightly browned
. Add garlic and saute for another 2 to 4 minutes. 
Add another tablespoon water if the mixture is threatening to burn. 

Add paprika, chile powder, turmeric, coriander and tomato bouillon and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until aromatic; 
 this may need a tablespoon or two of water to prevent spices from burning if the mixture is too dry. 

Add tomato puree and saute about 5 minutes until tomatoes are incorporated into sauce. Finish by adding ½ cup water and stir to combine. 

Add the pureed greens to the Dutch oven and use some of the saved greens liquid from the pressure cooker to adjust consistency
. Place Dutch oven in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. 

Remove from the oven. Taste and adjust seasonings, as needed. Add water to adjust consistency if needed. Add the diced
 paneer cubes. Stir and cover to let the paneer absorb flavors of the saag mixture
 for approximately 30 minutes. Serve with a dollop or two of butter.


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