I love the idea of paneer. I like tofu, so it stands to reason that I must also like the other bland vegetarian staple that is paneer. I have now found my perfect paneer recipe in Asma Khan’s Mattar Paneer (paneer and pea curry), but what can you do when you can’t get hold of paneer, or you need to turn that block of salty squeaky cheese in your fridge into a fully formed meal. Enter John Whaite and his Saag halloumi, which I’d seen on instagram and bought the book of the back of this.
I honestly wish I’d thought of this recipe myself. One of the main issues with paneer is it’s blandness. Halloumi on the other hand is almost too flavoursome with its brazen salinity. It seems a perfect candidate to temper all that salt with a bag of spinach and some sweet cherry tomatoes.
With very little oil, the halloumi is fried till crispy but not greasy. The onions are then fried quickly before the spices are added, followed by the cherry tomatoes and a bit of water. This dryish curry is cooked for a few minutes till the tomatoes start to lose their shape, before returning the halloumi to the pan followed by the spinach. Once the spinach has wilted, the curry is ready. Although I served it with rice in the pic, I actually prefer this curry in a roti (or a naan or chapati), with a bit of chutney and raita. It’s fairly dry, and surprisingly light for a cheese curry.
According to John Whaite, this saag halloumi takes 5 minutes prep and 20 minutes cooking. Ambitious but not far off reality. I had dinner on the table in little over half hour. By its nature, this sort of dish is cooked quickly and served immediately so I didn’t have long to labour over a photo but the mere idea of halloumi in a curry should be enough to convince.