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Asha's Saag Paneer Galette

Recipe by: Asha Loupy

Serves: 6

Asha's Saag Paneer Galette
Photo by:  

Melati Citrawireja

Inspired by the beloved dish, saag paneer, this savory galette is sure to please vegetarians and omnivores alike. It starts with a super flaky crust, thanks to a bit of semolina flour and vodka in the dough. Then, a mountain of greens is cooked down with cumin, coriander, turmeric, and lots of aromatics to create the saag part of the filling. For the paneer, this recipe calls for farmer's cheese instead of the usually pressed paneer that the classic dish calls for. If you've ever made paneer from scratch, the dense curds you have before pressing is very similar to farmer's cheese, creamy, and just a bit tangier than ricotta. Post-bake, the galette is drizzled with a crispy-crunchy, chilli tadka for extra drama and flavor.

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For the pastry
  • 1¼ cups (163g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup fine (36g) semolina flour
  • ¾ teaspoon Surya Salt or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick), plus 3 tablespoons, cold unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
For the fillings & assembly
  • 4 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 pods Baraka Green Cardamom, lightly crushed
  • 1½ teaspoons coarsely ground Jodhana Cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons coarsely ground Nandini Coriander
  • Pinch of hing
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Indian long peppers or 1 serrano, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Pragati Turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon powdered Guntur Sannam Chillies
  • 1 to 2 medium plum tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoon Surya Salt or 2¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 to 3 large bunches dark, leafy greens, like spinach, mustard greens or kale (we like a mix of a couple), hearty stems removed and leaves & tender stems roughly chopped
  • 1 pound farmer's cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought roasted sesame seeds
For the tadka


To make the crust
  1. To make the dough, combine the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and add it to the flour mixture. Using your fingers, rub the cubes of butter into the flour until the butter is the size of chickpeas.
  2. Add the vodka and 3 tablespoons ice water to the flour-butter mixture and gently stir until a very shaggy dough starts to form. Squeeze the dough together to form a ball. (If the dough seems dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it comes together.)
  3. Place the dough ball on a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and then place another piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap on top and roll the dough into a 10-inch round. Remove the top piece of parchment and fold the dough in half lengthwise and then in half again crosswise (this is creating lots of flaky layers!). Form the dough back into a disk, wrap completely, and chill for 1 hour.

To make the saag filling

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin, coriander and cardamom and sauté until they just start to turn light golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they turn translucent and start to caramelize, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, green chillies, turmeric, powdered chillies and hing and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, preserved lemons, if using, 1 teaspoon Surya Salt or 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, and ¼ cup water and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes start to break down, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add half the greens and stir to coat in the spiced tomato mixture. Allow the greens to wilt for a couple minutes and then add the remaining greens, stirring again. Cover and cook until the greens are cooked through and very tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer one-third of the greens to a blender, blend into a coarse paste, and fold back into the rest of the greens. You want the filling to be on the drier side, so if it looks too loose, continue cooking it until some of liquid evaporates, 2 to 4 minutes more. Let the filling cool to room temperature. (You can also make this the day before baking the galette and refrigerate overnight.)
To assemble, bake, and finish
  1. To make the paneer filling, combine the farmer's cheese, 1 egg, and the remaining ½ teaspoon Surya Salt or ¾ teaspoon kosher salt in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk the other egg is a separate bowl with 1 tablespoon water, and set aside.
  2. To roll and assemble the galette, place the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface, roll into a 15-inch round, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Dollop half of the cheese mixture onto the crust, leaving 2-inch border (do not spread the cheese). Spoon the saag filling around the cheese filling, creating a circle of greens and still leaving that 2-inch border. Dollop the rest of the cheese filling on top (or you can transfer it into a zip-top bag, cut off the corner and pipe it into 2-inch rounds),then fold the dough border up over the filling, pleating as needed. Transfer the pan to the freezer and chill for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. While the galette is chilling, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  4. Remove the chilled galette from the freezer, brush the dough with the reserved egg wash, and sprinkle with the roasted sesame seeds. Bake until the crust is deep golden and cheese is light golden, about 43 to 50 minutes.
  5. To make the tadka, heat the ghee in a tadka pan or small skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin and black mustard, and cook, swirling the pan, until fragrant and the cumin is a shade darker, 30 to 45 seconds. Off the heat, add the chilli powder and salt, stir, then spoon over the center of the galette, making sure to be extra generous on top of the dollops of cheese. Serve warm or room temperature (if the latter, add the tadka right before serving).

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