One of my favorite restaurants – actually, a series of restaurants around the Valley – is Saffron Valley. Lavanya Mahate’s inspired Indian cuisine is second to none, and each of her eateries is every bit as vibrant as the food served there. For this week’s Scheff’s Table, I asked Lavanya to share one of her favorite Saffron Valley recipes with me and Utah Bites readers. Try this delicious dish in your own kitchen!
From Lavanya Mahate: “Paneer is a fresh cheese popular in Indian cooking. It’s a great source of protein for vegetarians. Paneer has a similar texture to firm tofu, which can be used as a non-dairy substitute. Saag Paneer is a popular North-Indian dish which is a pureed spinach base speckled with cubed paneer. Saffron Valley offers this and many other options for vegan and vegetarian foodies.”
2 bunches fresh spinach
2 cups broccoli florets
1 medium onion chopped finely
1 medium tomato diced
3 tsp Garam Masala
1 serrano pepper, slit lengthwise
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. oil
2 cups Paneer or firm tofu cubed
1/2 cup fresh cream
1. Steam spinach leaves and broccoli florets with 1 cup of water for 20 minutes. Let it cool and blend the greens into a puree.
2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a deep skillet over medium-high flame. Add the cubed paneer and fry for a couple of minutes until light brown on all sides, gently turning to avoid breaking the cubes. Remove the cheese from the skillet and set aside.
3. Return the skillet to the heat, add 1 tbsp. oil and add the onions. Cook until the onions get soft and add the tomato and the serrano pepper. Add the Garam Masala, salt and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
4. Add the spinach puree. Stir the mixture together and let it come to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. At this point add the paneer cubes and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in fresh cream and remove from heat.
5. Serve with steamed rice or flatbreads.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.