Monday, March 25, 2013

Paalak Paneer

My version

Paalak Paneer is a very popular North Indian Vegetarian dish made by puréeing spinach and dunking in Paneer or Cottage Cheese cubes. This is a less spicy, easy to make, and healthy side dish that kids too will love. This has been one of my personal favourite since childhood and I learnt the recipe first from a restaurant chef. But, trust me, chef's will never share authentic recipes. It has happened so many times. They will surely skip out 1 or 2 ingredients that really enhances the true flavour of a dish. Anyway, I had to try this recipe so many times to come out with this perfect paalak paneer, that tastes just like how you get in restaurants.

If you do not find Paneer in your local store, you can easily make it at home as well, by coagulating milk with lemon juice, vinegar or any other food acids and then pressing down the curds in a clean cheesecloth or muslin for 2-3 hours. When it becomes firm, cut them into cubes. Paneer is used in different variations in Indian Vegetarian cuisine and is one of the major sources of protein for vegetarians in Indian.

Ingredients :

Fresh Spinach

3 bunches*

2 tablespoons
Cumin seeds

1 teaspoon
Onion (thinly sliced)

1 medium

2 cloves

5cm piece
Green chillies

1 or 2 nos.
Fennel powder

1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder

1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon
Garam masala

1/2 teaspoon
Kasoori methi

1 tablespoon

3 cups
Tomato puree / fresh tomato**

1 tablespoon / 1 medium

1/4 cup

1 pack

As required.

* 3 Bunches, if the leaves are really big. If you get small leaves, use 4-5 bunches.
** I used tomato puree in this recipe because I didn't have tomatoes the day I made this. I'd recommend fresh tomato.

Preparation Method :
Wash the spinach leaves well.
Lay the leaves into a wok and pour in hot water. Season with some salt so that it retains the green colour.

boil on high for 7-8 minutes until the leaves softens. Then strain the water, and allow the leaves to cool.

In the same wok, heat some oil and add 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds. Then add the onion, garlic, ginger,  green chilli and sauté until onions turn transparent.

Add the powdered spices and the kasuri methi and sauté well.

Roast for a couple of seconds. If you are using fresh tomatoes, add them at this stage and sauté until the tomato softens.

Allow this masala mix to cool. Then add the cooled spinach leaves and masala mix into a blender, pour in some of the strained water and blend into a puree. If you like chunks in your gravy, you don't have to puree it too much.

Into a wok, slightly brown the paneer cubes in some oil. If you like the paneer really soft, you don't have to do this, you can add it into the gravy straight away.

Into the same oil, add the other half of the cumin seeds and into it add the tomato paste. If you are using fresh tomatoes, skip this step. Sauté the tomato paste in the oil until the raw smell disappears. Then pour in the spinach puree, add the rest of the water and bring the gravy to a complete boil. Beware! the gravy will spatter as it boils. Do not burn yourself.

Pour in the cream and add the paneer and allow it to simmer on low heat for 8 minutes.

Serve with Roties or Naan. I like it with rice too.

Try it, and let me know how it worked for you! :)

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