Saag vs. Palak and Pairing Wine with Saag Paneer

Ever had the green curry with paneer or Indian cheese in a restaurant and wondered why it was sometimes called Saag Paneer and sometimes Palak Paneer? Saag means greens in Hindi and Palak means spinach. When you make the curry with just spinach, you call it palak paneer. This last Saturday, I had the opportunity of making a true Saag Paneer with three varieties of greens from the Magnolia Farmer’s Market.

Veena's Market Sassy Saag with fresh greens and tomatoes from Magnolia Farmer's Market

Dish It Up’s Wine Ambassador Nancy invited me to do a Saag Paneer and Naan demo at the Magnolia store this past Saturday. The Magnolia Farmer’s Market donated fresh greens from Stoney Plains Organic Farm and various kinds of hot house tomatoes from Kittitas Valley Greenhouse. Instead of the typical spinach, we used perpetual spinach (a cross between spinach and chard), tender mustard greens and the Japanese mibuna greens. The freshness and superior taste of the greens came through in the cooked dish as well as a slight zing from the mustard. The colorful green zebras, black krim, brandywine and copia tomatoes made for the perfect garnish. I’d never seen mibunas before or cooked with them. The plant belong to the mustard family but has a very mild flavor. I thought it brought the perpetual spinach and the mustard greens together very well.

Nancy picked three excellent white wines that paired well with the dish. She poured a sparkling wine – Renaissance Brut, Willow Crest Pinot Gris, and Leitz Eins Zwei Dry Riesling. While all three wines balanced the spices well without amplifying the mild heat of the Saag, the most popular match seemed to be the Pinot Gris. Many people focus on food and others on wine, but Nancy has really helped me understand how to bring the two together even when it comes to spicy Indian food! Your choice for beverages with a spicy Tandoori chicken or even Vindaloo goes way beyond a Kingfisher beer. Her three choices of wine should go well with many other Indian dishes.

If you want to learn more about pairing food and wine or be guided through a sensory experience of wine aromas, follow the Dish It Up facebook page or Twitter account for wine tasting and other opportunities in the Magnolia and Ballard stores. Most events are free. Both stores have many great wines from around the world for sale.

I had a lot of fun doing this event! Here are a few pictures.

Making Saag

Showing how to make naan

The colorful tomatoes from the Magnolia Farmer's Market

Veena loves teaching!

The beautiful greens, perpetual spinach, mustard and mibuna

Cutting more greens

A bite of Saag Paneer with naan and sop of sparkling wine

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Filed under General, India, Wine

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