Otherwise known as Saag Paneer in Indian Cuisines, this recipe is yummy, light, easy to digest and tasty. It was a fun recipe to whip up for friends and can be tri-doshic, balancing to Vata, Pitta and Kapha, even this time of year if it's done right. The spices help with reducing the kaphagenic qualities of the cheese and yogurt. The whey and spices boost digestive enzymes. The ghee, yogurt and cheese support healthy pre/pro-biotics. The rice provides adequate fiber, along with the spinach. Plenty of protein in this dish. Balanced carbs and fats. A whole complete meal. Light, filling and satisfying.
Remember, green is good, especially this time of year as spring enters into the atmosphere and green is good for the blood.
This recipe is a bit involving though. There are several steps but the end result is amazing and it can be fun to make this an opportunity to be intimate with cooking and being in the natural pharmacy known as the kitchen.
3 cups of fresh spinach
2 cup of water
1 cup of fresh/whole fat yogurt
1/2 gallon of whole organic or raw milk
2 tsp. of cumin seeds
1 tsp. of mustard seeds
1 onion completely diced
1 tbs. of diced fresh ginger
1 tsp. of turmeric
1 tbs. of ghee/coconut oil
2 tsp. of sea salt or himalayan pink salt
2 cups of whey liquid
1 cup of soaked rice
1/4 cup of cilantro
1 tbs. of cardamom pods
1/8 tsp. of cayenne
In a large saucepot, pour in the milk. Bring it to a medium simmer for 10 minutes. Then squeeze 1 1/2 lime juice into this. It will curdle. The milk solids will separate from the whey protein. When it appears as though all the milk has separated. Take a large bowl and strain this mixture. The cheese part will remain in the strainer. The liquid is the whey. Keep this as you'll use it for your rice. Empty the contents of what is in the strainer onto a dish. Then, place another dish on top with a weight of sorts in order to squeeze out any remaining liquid. You can do this for about 1.5-2 hours. You'll see the water on the sides. Occasionally, drain this mix and put the weight back on. For the weight, I usually get a few heavy bowls and place it on top to ensure the cheese is being squeezed. After the time has passed, remove the weight and slice the cheese into cubes. It becomes a soft and light cheese.
Take 1 cup of water and add it to a medium saucepot. When it starts to simmer, add the spinach and cover for a minute or two until it has softened.
Take the spinach and add it to a food processor. Add the yogurt and blend really well, into a puree.
In a large skillet, add the ghee and spices. Saute and allow the spices to infuse into the oil. This can be for a minute or two on a low heat. Then, take the cubes of cheese and add it to the oil/spice mix and saute until most of the edges of the cheese have browned. Next, add the onions and ginger. Saute for a minute or two. Then add the spinach/yogurt mixture. Cover this, with a low simmer for 15-20 minutes.
In a medium saucepot, add 1 tbs. of ghee and 1 tsp. cumin seeds. Let the seeds pop into the oil on a low heat. Next, add the rice and saute slightly. Next, add 2 cups of the whey and bring to a boil. Add salt. Cover and let simmer on a low-medium heat until the rice has cooked. Towards the last five minutes add the cilantro and mix it into the rice. Cover the pot. Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for five minutes.
On a plate, scoop out the rice and then add the saag paneer to the rice on the side. You can cook other vegetables to complete the dish. See previous recipes for ideas. Personally, I have eaten this wish a small glass of Takra (Ayurvedic Buttermilk) and home made dosa (Indian pancake/flat bread). Amazing!
Note: the remaining whey liquid can be stored up until 5 days and you can use it again for other rice dishes or as a base for something else.