Saag Aloo with Paneer and Caramelised Fennel

This recipe uses my home made paneer, which TRUST ME is really simple and only uses 2 ingredients! I fry it up and combine with roast potatoes tossed in caramelised fennel for a beautiful side dish to curries and dhals.

Option serving suggestions:

For the Paneer:

2 litres whole milk (avoid skimmed, non fat or UHT milk)

3-4 tbsp lemon juice

1. In a deep sauce pan, heat the milk on a low/medium heat until it comes to a boil. This make take around 20 minutes but don’t be tempted to turn up the heat. Keep an eye and stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

2. When it starts to boil and rise up the pan, turn the heat down and add the lemon juice. Keep stirring and you should see it curdle straight away. Take off the heat and cover to give it time for the curds to separate from the whey.

3. Line a sieve with cheesecloth or a large piece of muslin and place it over a big bowl. After about 10 minutes, you should see big chunks of curds form in the milky liquid. Pour this slowly into the sieve to catch the curds and drain off the whey. Run some cold water over the sieve to remove any remaining whey. Take hold of the muslin and squeeze any remaining whey out. Then twist and flatten the muslin bundle on a plate, forming it roughly into a flat round shape and weigh it down with another plate. Leave this to set in the fridge for 30 mins – 1 hour. It should keep for about 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge, ready to use in so many delicious dishes. The whey can be stored in the fridge and used in many different recipes, lactoferments or even drank on its own!

For the Sag Aloo: (Serves 4 as a side)

20g butter

2 bulbs of fennel

1 brown onion, finely sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp brown sugar

1tsp mild curry powder

3 large potatoes

1 tsp whole grain mustard

½ tsp black mustard seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp ground turmeric

200g baby spinach

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 6.

2. Once the paneer is draining, start with the caramelised fennel as the longer it cooks, the more delicious and sticky it will be. Remove fronds of the fennel and save this for later to garnish. Discard the stems and cut the fennel into thin slices. Thinly slice the onion and garlic.

3. Heat a pan over a low-medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil and the butter. Add the onion and fennel with a big pinch of salt and sweat down over a low heat until completely softened and translucent. This may take around 30 minutes or longer. Stir occasionally so they don’t take on any colour, you may need to add a splash of water if they start to stick.

4. When they are soft, turn up the heat and add the sugar, garlic and spices.

5. While the fennel is cooking, cut the potatoes into 3cm chunks. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, wholegrain mustard, spices and a pinch of salt and pepper.

6. In a roasting tray lined with baking paper, toss the potatoes to coat, adding more mustard depending on your taste preferences.

7. Roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until cooked through.

8. When the paneer has set, cut it into 2cm cubes.

9. Heat a frying pan with a good drizzle of oil over a high heat. Fry the paneer cubes until golden brown, then flip over and fry the other side (I find it easier to fry on a higher heat for a shorter time to avoid sticking). Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain.

10. Add the potatoes to a large bowl and stir in the caramelised fennel mixture and the spinach, allowing it to wilt in the heat. Serve warm with the pan fried paneer and fennel fronds on top.

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