Unfortunately, it's not a light dish when served in your local India lunch buffet line. Clarified butter and deep fried cheese adds too many calories for this weight-watching kitchen commando.
Plus, it is not easy to find paneer -- but upon doing a little research, I found out it tastes similar to cottage cheese. Just imagine all the liquid squeezed out and the curds formed into cheese blocks. So I put two and two together and came up with a budget-busting, calorie-skimping entree anyone can make.
The main spice is curry powder. I just use cumin - open a jar and smell -- it makes up 75% of your typical curry powder. And cumin is much easier to find on any grocery store spice shelf; plus it's much cheaper than curry powder. Pick up an onion to saute, as this will add a bit of caramelized sweetness.
For an extra boost of cheesiness crumble-in half a disc of Mexican cheese called Queso Fresco, that comes cheaply from 99c only Stores and Latin markets (It's showing up in regular groceries, too.) It is a hard cheese that softens to gooey deliciousness, making my Saag Paneer recipe extra rich.
Slow cooking the spinach and cottage cheese with cumin creates a lush dish that is low in calories, especially if you use low fat cottage cheese. So give my delish, India-inspired, 99 Cent Chef Saag Paneer a try -- all it takes is a little spinach chopping and some slow cooking.
- 2 bunches of spinach - or about two 6 ounce packages.
- 1 whole onion - chopped
- Small 8 ounce container of cottage cheese.
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin - if you have curry powder, use that.
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 tablespoons of milk - optional during final cooking stage.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Queso Fresco cheese - optional. I used half a 4 ounce package, that is broken into bite sized pieces.
Heat oil in medium sized pan or pot. Add chopped onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes over a medium heat.
Mix in cumin and saute for a couple of minutes. Add cottage cheese and mix well.
Start adding chopped spinach. It will cook down in a minute or so. Continue chopping spinach and adding it to pot or pan until it is well blended into cottage cheese/onion mixture. (For extra richness add Queso Fresco cheese when spinach cooks down.)
Once all the spinach is added, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to low and cover to cook for 20 - 30 minutes.
Check spinach mixture from time to time to make sure liquid does not completely cook out. Stir periodically.
As spinach cooks down it adds a lot of liquid. The object is to cook spinach until very soft and cream-like. The cottage cheese will dissolve into the sauce. Add a couple of spoonfuls of milk if it starts to dry out.