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Camping Recipe: Saag Paneer

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By Casey Dean

No matter where your hiking boots take you, you can enjoy the foods of the world over a Whisperlite Stove. This version of the Indian dish saag paneer replaces the paneer with tofu, but a white cheese instead of tofu would be a great option as well. The Mexican cheese, queso fresco, is a great replacement for paneer.

According to NOLS Rocky Mountain intern Geoffrey Journeay-Kaler, who provided NOLS with this recipe, the backpacking version of saag is surprisingly easy, far easier than making it indoors, actually.

Watch NOLS own Cooking Show talents as they prepare this recipe in the backcountry, then take your own international menu on your next adventure.

The recipe:
¼ cup water
¼ tsp curry powder
2 pinches salt
1 slice dried tofu
2 tsp oil

1 ½ cups freeze-dried spinach
1/3 cup freeze-dried tomato chunks
¼ cup powdered whole milk
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ginger powder
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 ½ Tbs oil

Mix together the curry powder, salt, and water. Add in the tofu and let it soak up all of the liquid. While the tofu is rehydrating, put the spinach into a bowl. Add in the tomato chunks and whole milk power.

Back to the tofu: heat the 2 teaspoons of oil on medium heat. Add the tofu. Fry on all sides until it is browned and crispy. Chop the fried tofu up and set it aside for later. Heat the 1 ½ tablespoons of oil, add all the spices at once, and fry them briefly on medium low heat. Don’t let them burn!

Add in the rehydrated spinach, tomatoes, and milk. Stir the saag, breaking up any clumps of spinach that did not fully rehydrate with your spatula, and distribute the saag evenly across the pan.

Cover and cook on medium low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tofu. Stir together. Cover and cook for 2-3 more minutes, allowing the tofu to soak up some of the liquid. Serve over basmati rice, on bread, or solo. Serves one to two with the rice.