Cook This: Saag Paneer + Indian Fried Fish

May 25, 2011

Inspiration for tonight's dinner -- simple and delicious Indian food in under an hour. Bonus: There's a good chance you have most of the ingredients hanging around your spice rack.

We've neatly condensed the recipes below, but to read the full-fledged versions (and save and print them) just click on the recipe links or photos. Dinner is served!

The Menu:

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Saag Paneer by merrill

saag paneer


Meen Porichathu (Fried Fish) by pauljoseph

Meen Porichathu


The Grocery List (for 4):

  • • 4 fillets of firm but flaky white fish (like U.S. farm-raised tilapia or catfish, or whatever's local and fresh from your fishmonger)
  • • Small knob fresh ginger
  • • 1 lime
  • • About 1 cup rice flour, for dredging
  • • Oil for shallow frying (something neutral with a high smoke point, like canola or grapeseed)
  • • 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach or 2 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • • 8 oz. paneer cheese (if you cannot find paneer, haloumi is a good substitute)
  • • 1 small onion
  • • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • • 1/2 cup heavy cream


There's a good chance you have a few cloves of garlic, salt, black pepper, white or brown rice, nutmeg, chili powder, turmeric, cumin seed, coriander seed, mustard seed, red pepper flakes, cardamom pods, and whole cloves on hand -- but if not, now's your chance to stock your larder (and spice rack)!


The Plan:

1. Marinate: Prepare the marinade for the fish. (This recipe includes some measurements in grams but don't fret -- Jenny made it trusting her gut instincts. You can see her approach here.) Salt your fish, rub the marinade on it, put it in a ziplock bag and leave it in the fridge while you get the rest of the meal together. Get your rice simmering on the stove (or in a rice cooker, if that's how you roll).

2. Prep time: While the rice is doing its thing, grind up your Saag Paneer spice blend in an electric coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle. Cube your paneer; chop your spinach and onion; mince your garlic and ginger -- now you're all all mise-en-placed!

3. Onward to Saag Paneer: Brown the cubes of paneer in oil. Pull them out, and soften your chopped onion in the pan next. Add your minced garlic and ginger, the spice mixture from step 2, plus turmeric and a pinch of salt. Add the spinach to the pan to wilt. Stir in the buttermilk and cream and simmer until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the freshly grated nutmeg and black pepper, and taste for seasoning. Stir in the paneer. Done! Set aside while you fry up some fish.

4. Fish-fry: Heat your oil in a shallow frying pan. Coat the fish in rice flour, pan fry on both sides until golden and cooked through -- 2-4 minutes per side, depending on thickness (but you can always make a tiny slice in the middle to peek for doneness). 

Last step? Pour yourself a glass of crisp white wine or beer. You deserve it. Why? Because dinner is served.


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Susie B. May 26, 2011
What a great couple of recipes; the only thing I'd change is to pour the wine as step one!

I made palak paneer recently with homemade paneer (really easy):
healthierkitchen May 25, 2011
I have made this delicious fish before and look forward to making the saag paneer!
AntoniaJames May 25, 2011
House guests arrive tonight . . . was planning to serve them the Saag Paneer (of course . . . I've made it many times already), but was undecided as to what else would be on the menu. This is perfect!! So interested in trying the rice flour, too. Thanks for this great suggestion. ;o)
Sodium G. May 25, 2011
I love love love saag paneer! Actually have a recipe in the book for it because paneer is one of the few low sodium cheeses. The textures are wonderful and the taste of slow cooked, melted spinach and onions can't be beat. Can't wait to try this version!