Between taking time off for a bad cold which started with the sore throat from …. well, you can guess, and a Friday without any calls, I’ve been home for six days. And doing very little cooking that I can post about.
So, this palak paneer is a stretch to be creative with very little energy.
Palak, means spinach, but the more broadly defined saag paneer, which refers to various ‘greens’ including spinach, mustard greens and fresh fenugreek leaves, is the more commonly served vegetarian dish found on Indian menus. Paneer refers to a fresh cheese which you can buy in Indian grocery stores but make, quite easily, at home.
I combined a couple of different recipes I found on line for the recipe below.
Palak (Spinach) Paneer – serves 3-4
250 grams / 8-9 oz cooked spinach*
250 grams / 8-9 oz fresh cottage cheese (paneer), cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tbsp vegetable oil
For the gravy or sauce:
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 bay leaf (medium to large)
1 onion, medium, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 or 2 fresh green chilies, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
1 pinch turmeric powder (haldi)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi), use 2 tsp if you want a more bitter taste
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 cup whipping cream or drained plain yogurt**
a pinch of sugar
salt as required
1-2 fresh tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (optional)
* I used a 10 oz box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and cooked according to package directions.
** I would have used the yogurt but I didn’t have any this time.
Blanch spinach leaves in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water with 1/2 cup of ice cubes in it and leave for 1 minutes to cold shock (stop the cooking). Drain the spinach well and puree in a food processor or blender if you want the spinach to be a fine puree. Otherwise, just chop as finely as possible.
Optional: Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Pan fry the paneer cubes until golden brown on several sides to add additional flavour and texture. Remove the paneer cubes and drain them on paper towels.
Making the gravy or sauce:
In the same oil in which you pan fried the paneer, add the cumin seeds and the bay leaf and saute over medium high heat until the cumin seeds crackle. Then add the finely chopped onions and stir well cooking until they turn a light golden colour.
Add the ginger paste, garlic paste and finely chopped green chilies, stir and saute till the raw aroma of the ginger-garlic goes away. (If using the tomatoes, add them now.) Now add the spice powders – turmeric powder, black pepper, and dry fenugreek leaves, crushing the leaves before adding.
Stir well, reduce the heat to medium and add the spinach puree. Season with salt and sugar. Stir well, simmering the gravy for 5 to 6 minutes or until it thickens slightly and the spinach is cooked well.
Add the whipping cream along with the garam masala powder and stir very well. The cream should be mixed thoroughly with the spinach gravy.
Turn off the heat, add the paneer cubes and stir them gently with the rest of the gravy so as not to break up the cubes.
Serve the palak paneer hot with various Indian breads ie. rotis, naan, chapatis, paratha or cumin basmati rice or biryani rice.
I had to eat even though I was sick so I made some other quick and easy dishes …
pan-fried boneless pork chops with leftover enchilada quinoa and
roasted chicken drumsticks which had been marinated in Italian salad dressing, steamed broccoli dressed with sweet Thai chili sauce, vanilla bean panna cotta topped with a compote made with frozen blackberries, blueberries, orange juice and some orange zest.
I even made another sourdough tartine loaf with dried dill weed and minced onion. Great as a snack with some butter or toasted and spread with cream cheese.
Oh, and there was a sourdough pizza and sourdough pancakes with macerated strawberries and strawberry coulis.