Victoria Day Weekend and Palak (Spinach) Paneer

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)

*Β  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.

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13 thoughts on “Victoria Day Weekend and Palak (Spinach) Paneer

  1. You’ve been busy even though you’ve not been well, I sure hope all this good eating made you feel better. We love Palek Paneer, such a flavourful dish. Your sourdough looks fantastic, you’ve really mastered the slashing technique.

    1. Thank you. The meals were made in bits and pieces and assembled so I never had too much to do in any one day. The palak paneer took about half an hour and I was too lazy to puree the spinach … maybe next time. As to the sourdough bread, most of it is waiting time. So, all in all, not a very demanding week in terms of actual hands on labour. I still have to do a lot of work on my slashing though I was quite happy with the latest tartine. It’s only the 3rd one I’ve ever made. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you. It wasn’t as dramatic as I wanted as I didn’t slash deep enough in a couple of places. I was going to do some stenciling on my loaf (you can use cocoa powder in the pattern) but I misplaced the stencils I had. There are all sorts of great slashing patterns you can use on round or oval or rectangular loaves.

  2. Palak paneer usually looks so sad and dull in Indian restaurants…. yours looks wonderful and delicious! I am impressed as always by your baking. The loaf is beautiful!
    I hope you will get better soon!

    1. Thank you. I’m doing much better but I still have a persistent deep cough which will take a while to go away.

      My spinach was frozen and took only a short time to be done once added to the spice mixture. I imagine the ones in the restaurant are pureed and kept for a while so the colour gets dull and greyish. I may try to puree it next time to see if the smoother texture is more appealing.

  3. I admire all the terrific looking meals that you were able to prepare while not feeling well. The bread is just fantastic even if you thought you wanted it to look better. I hope you are feeling better. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for the kind remark. My meals are often a combination of elements that have been freshly prepared and those that have been prepared and frozen in portions in the past. So, the pressure to make a complete meal daily is greatly reduced. I often scramble to plate the result in an attractive fashion without fresh fruit, veg or herb garnishes, a variety of dishes/cutlery and any sort of photographic set-up.

      As to the bread … I was shooting for an ‘ear’, a raised band of bread along a slash line. The crumb (interior of the bread) was nice and ‘holey’ something one tries to achieve with a high hydration (water to flour) ratio. Sourdough bakers are a fussy group. πŸ™‚

  4. I never understood the difference between saag paneer and palak paneer, but you clarified that beautifully. Id always assumed the two were synonymous. It looks so delicious. I haven’t had Indian food here in the KW area yet, because I feel like the great palak/saag paneer that any Indian food from KW will never compare to the incredible Indian meals I enjoyed in Toronto, Vancouver, and of course, Kathmandu (Nepal).

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