Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saag Paneer with Home Made Vegan Paneer Cheese

Right now, I'm seriously regretting that I wasn't one of those girly little girls that imagined "fairies and rainbows and sparkles" at her wedding. In fact, my only vague memories of extreme party planning are tied to my Bat Mitzvah...the most vivid of which being the argument between my grandmother and I when I demanded I wear a pants suit instead of a dress. How I didn't know I was gay when I was 12 is still a mystery to me. But I digress...

Jane and I have begun the serious planning stages of our wedding. We easily decided on a location (mountain top in Malibu? Yes, please.), and easily agreed on the food. Now comes the tough part. It's not the actual planning of the party itself, but more in the details I don't want to be bothered with. Like do we play "Here comes the bride" or "Here come the brides"? Maybe we should just play some snappy lesbian hip hop and "Back dat ass up" down the aisle.

What is our color scheme? I don't fucking know. I'm more of a "summer" and Jane's more of a "winter". I guess that leaves "spring" being the happy medium. And how the hell am I supposed to pick out a bridesmaid dress that fits all four of my differently-shaped bridesmaids well? I can't even pick out a dress for myself. My sister has tits, by best friend doesn't. Where's the happy medium in that scenario?

All I know is this: I want it to be fun. I want to feel warm and fuzzy with love, then get shitfaced drunk and dance on the table in my underwear...just like another memory from my Bat Mitzvah that sadly involved my grandma doing the dancing. Well, I guess that makes two things I know for certain: give a Shagrin a bottle of good wine, and the evening will not turn out bland.

Now the question I know you're dying to ask: "What about the food?!" Well, we decided to go with a blend of Indian and American. It's easily vegan, and pleases almost anyone. Of course, I offered my culinary expertise should the chef have any questions. Here's one answer:

Saag Paneer with Home Made Vegan Paneer Cheese
  • 2 TBSP Vegan Ghee (recipe follows) or Sunflower Oil
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped Ginger
  • 1 cup Tomato Sauce
  • 1 TBSP ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 10 oz packages Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and un-drained
  • 1 batch of Home-Made Vegan Paneer (recipe follows, or sub cubed Super Firm Tofu fried as indicated in the Paneer recipe below).
  • 1/2 cup MimicCreme
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
Heat oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger root; stir-fry 1 to 2minutes or until garlic is golden brown.

Stir in tomato sauce, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground red pepper, and salt; reduce heat to low. Partially cover and simmer 7 to 8 minutes or until thin film of oil starts to form on surface of sauce.

Stir in undrained spinach. Cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until spinach turns a light olive green.

Stir in Homemade "Cheese". Cover and simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until "cheese" is hot; remove from heat.

Stir in MimicCreme and Garam Masala.

Vegan Paneer

  • 1 gallon (16 cups) High Fat Soy Milk (4-5g per serving)

  • 1/3 cup + 1 1/2 TBSP White Vinegar

  • Sunflower Oil, for deep-frying

Line large colander with cheesecloth, and place it in your sink.

Heat soy milk to boiling in 6-quart stockpot over medium-high heat. Make sure to stir frequently while it's heating up to prevent scorching.

The second that the soy milk hits the boiling point, quickly stir in the vinegar and remove from heat. The soy milk will immediately separate into vegan "curds" and "whey" .

Pour the contents of the pot into the cheesecloth lined colander in the sink, then lift edges of cloth, hold up the "cheese" in the cloth, and pour any excess liquid out of the colander. Completely wrap the "curds" in cloth, and place them back in the colander. Making sure to use an object that covers the entire surface area of the "cheese" in the cloth, place a weight on top of the "cheese". I use a stock pot with a cast iron skillet resting on top of it. You can also just fill a correctly sized stock pot with water to use as a weight. Leave the "cheese" in the sink for 5 to 6 hours to drain well.

After 5-6 hours, remove the weight and transfer the "cheese" to a cutting surface. Unwrap and discard the cloth, then slice the "cheese" into 1/2 inch cubes. Place the cubes on a plate, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours. They should look like so:

Heat 3 inches deep of sunflower oil in dutch oven or stock pot over medium high heat. When the temperature reads 300 degrees (or when testing one piece of cheese, it fries), deep fry the cheese in two batches for 4-5 minutes until it floats to the top and is golden brown.

Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to remove it from the pot, then drain on paper towel lined plate.

Use immediately, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days, or freeze for a few months.

Vegan Ghee
  • 1 stick (or 8 TBSP) of Vegan Margarine
Heat the stick of margarine over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it reduces by a little more than half. This should take about 7-10 minutes.


Ricki said...

I can't imagine your wedding being anything BUT fun. And beautiful. And memorable. And filled with astoundingly good food (and just the right amount of booze). Yay!

This dish looks incredible. You made your own paneer!! I am in awe ;)

Anonymous said...

well, i personally cannot wait to begin trying on those dresses. i'm clearly the girly one out of the two of us.

Jes said...

I'm with Ricki--your party is bound to be amazing! With Indian/American cuisine especially--hot and spicy, if you know what I mean. Always a good thing.

And vegan paneer?! Heck yeah! Now I just gotta make this making "cheese" thing work (I'm 0-1 right now...)

Lentils and Lavender said...

Wow this recipe looks so good! And the wedding sounds amazing, please keep posting updates on the planning.

Debra said...

It looks awesome!
Check out the cookbook giveaway on my blog..
Debra @ Vegan Family Style

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The Voracious Vegan said...

EEEEK! This looks AMAZING! Indian food is my favorite and I am going to have to make this like right NOW. Awesome awesome awesome.

I totally know what you mean about your wedding. I've been hitched for years but we still haven't had a wedding. We started the planning process several times and it always goes the same way: happy and fun for a few days, before descending into panic and a desperate desire to RUN AWAY. We both hate parties, and really, really like to hole up like the hermits we are.

I never fantasized about my wedding, in fact, until I met Cody I just assumed I would never get married. So, I have no tips for you but I hope you can choose a great color scheme/soundtrack/super funky pantsuit/etc.

Congrats again, by the way!

Anardana said...

Thanks for the recipe! What brand of soymilk do you use?

As for your wedding, I just planned one for myself, and here is a tip I found useful: don't make your bridesmaids wear all the same dress, instead give them a colour and/or length and/or style, and they will pick what looks best on them while still looking similar.

miss v said...

yay! i'm so down with this. for some reason, i just assumed i'd never have paneer again. i never thought to veganize it (i guess that's why i have you).

your wedding will be awesome - as long as you just follow your heart and don't worry about traditions. my brother was my 'maid of honor'... we got drunk as hell. our 'ceremony' was about 15 minutes and was mostly a jim morrison poem. we said our 'vows' so quietly that no one else heard, and they complained, but i didn't care... they were for us anyways. it will be what you make it!

Meredith said...

I've also come to the conclusion that wedding details just don't matter. (Though if you want you can let each of them pick out a dress in a specific color, length and fabric, but then they can choose a style that looks best on them.) I'm sure it will be amazing! When is the big day?

Desdemona said...

Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials; I'm sure you and your partner will come up with the celebration that's right for you! (I am also making this recipe in the next few days - it wasn't until I saw it that I realized it's exactly what I've been craving!)

Rose said...

I'm sure your wedding will be fabulous. The food choice certainly sounds excellent.

Your food looks wonderful (as usual).

Jenn Shagrin said...

Thanks for the advice! The big day is June 26th. I can't wait :)

Cortney said...

A really good site is they feature tons of weddings that are non-traditional, from the way they are celebrated to the people involved- it's very diverse in almost every way you can imagine, and there are lots of great ideas, lots of them DIY. It was started by a chick in Seattle that had a crazy 3 day pagan wedding fest on the island her mother runs a retreat on. It doesn't make me want to puke like a lot of other wedding sites, so I'd say that's a plus :)

Trinity (of haiku tofu) said...

PANEER!!! I adore paneer, but never thought it could be vegan-ized. This looks so delicious- I must now shift into cheese-making mode.

Thanks for posting Jenn!!!!!

Mike K said...

Love the home made vegan paneer - thanks for the recipe, and the resulting saag looks amazing. Since paneer and ghee are so prominent in a lot of Indian food, I've never really known what to do about adapting them - thanks for the tips! Planning for a wedding is as mind-boggling a concept for me as planning a trip to Neptune, but it sounds like you'll have much fun with it. Great post!

Anonymous said...


house vegan said...

Food looks amazing! I also I want to second The Offbeat Bride. The book and website kept me sane during my wedding plan. Non of our music was traditional and we didn't have "colors!" Yay getting married!

The Compassionate Hedonist said...

your blog is a total pleasure to read. you should honeymoon in Italy!!

Mihl said...

Planning a wedding sounds so complicated ;) But I am sure you guys will have a wonderful one!
And seriously, that looks like the most delicious and most perfect saag paneer I have ever seen!

Anonymous said...

we need to have another curry night at my place, ASAP

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

I can't believe you made paneer! Giiiirl, you crazy!

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

OH, & I can't wait to hear what you two decide for your wedding!

Anonymous said...


green*apple said...

Found your blog recently and im addicted. I didnt know u can make soy "cheese" using a traditional cheese making method...hmmm...I must make this cheese.

Unknown said...

and this is why i love your posts, haha awesome food and recipes plus you're hilarious and i love reading about whats going on with you..soo exciting to be planning your wedding though! stressful, i'm sure, but i'm sure it'll be wonderful and you'll be drunkenly dancing in no time ;)

Simply Life said...

Oh this looks DELICIOUS!

Beatrice said...

Homemade -- vegan -- paneer? Wow. It looks really good, too.

The Blissful Chef said...

Holy crap we've met before at various places and I didn't even know this was your blog!

Are you on Twitter? I want to tweet this with your name. @TheBlissfulChef

Let me know!

Jenn Shagrin said...

Hey Christy!

I'll send you a Twitter message, but my name on there is also jennshaggy.
Thank you :)

That's so random! It usually seems to be the other way around. I get to know people through my blog, then meet them in person.

Flightless Birds said...

As I live in a Mimicreamless land, I used plain, unsweetened soy yogurt instead and it was aaaaamazing.

Jen Treehugger said...

I just saw your comment over at The Elizavegan Page and wanted to say thank you for this recipe. I made it too and it is super delicious and will get made many many times. I'm surprised I haven't seen your blog before but I'm very happy to have found it now.
Congratulations on your forthcoming nuptials - such a joyous celebration.

Unknown said... just made tofu. which is what i use for "paneer", but it's still just tofu... soy milk + curdling agent (acid, nigari, gypsum, or enzymes) = tofu. I've found when i use Firm Tofu from the store in my indian foods, no one notices it's not actually paneer (even my cousin's wife, who is from India) you CAN save a step and just buy premade tofu :) oh and it does work better if you add the tofu into the recipe earlier than you would paneer so it can "soak up" more of the flavors.

Kickass Squishy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

vegan paneer? you are incredible! i want to try with coconut milk!!! :)

unnatisilks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
unnatisilks said...

Sounds delicious
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Unknown said...

Me, too! Have you managed to try making the vegan paneer with coconut milk or coconut cream? I'm allergic to soy so I have to try this.

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Rev W said...

THANK YOU! I used to make tofu. I make paneer. Protein is protein, right? But what I've read before about "soy paneer" either said to just buy tofu instead or talk about how complicated non-dairy paneer is to make or about horrible gelatinous failures. So I hadn't tried making "soy paneer" ... Your method is IDENTICAL to how I make paneer and works just fine!

Cindy Barg said...
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Cindy Barg said...

A lady I know felt that she didn't have a suitable outfit when asked at the last minute to stand in as the lead singer for a concert with a really great '70's Disco tribute band, so she wrapped herself in a bed sheet and rocked it!!!

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