Sunday, October 6, 2013

Palak Paneer

I first had Indian food in grad school.  I vaguely remember having a fish dish and a couple other things too, but most of all, I remember really liking it and wondering why I hadn't experienced Indian food prior to that.

Ahh... Indian food.  Yum.  So full of spices and flavors.  It can be spicy, but oftentimes, restaurants will accommodate and make dishes mild, which is really more of a medium.  Then there's hot and Indian hot.  Lol.

Palak Paneer.  Google says palak is "spinach".  Sometimes you'll see it called saag paneer.  Saag refers to leafy greens.  Paneer is an Indian cheese.  It looks fairly simple to make.  Curdle whole milk with lemon juice, strain it in cheesecloth, and press into a block.  Sounds very feasible, maybe next time.

Ok, so palak paneer.  I love this stuff, but I have to say This didn't turn out as yummy as when I buy it.  Then again, I tend to think food always tastes better when someone cooks for you and there are no dishes to wash. Maybe I just need to add more salt, but this was easy enough and still yummy.

Thaw a 16oz package of frozen chopped spinach in the microwave on high for about 6 minutes.

Blend /purée in blender.  I used my food processor, but maybe the blender would get a finer texture?  Mine was still a little chunky, which was fine for me.  And I guess if you were really looking for simple, you could just use as is without puréeing.

In a saucepan or pot, heat some vegetable oil.  Toss in cubes of paneer.  Brown on both sides, then remove from pot onto some paper towels to soak up the extra oil.

Add a little more oil to the pot.  Add chopped onions and brown.  When onions are getting slightly brown, add minced garlic, minced ginger, and garam masala.  Garam masala is just a mix spices - cloves, coriander, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon.  If things are looking a little dry, add a little water so the spices don't burn.

Add spinach purée to pot.  Add some salt, bring to boil.

If mixture is thick, you can add some cream, yogurt, or milk for some more sauciness.

When sauce is to desired consistency, add paneer.

Stir gently until combined.  Serve with rice or naan.

Palak Paneer

16oz frozen chopped spinach
8 oz paneer cheese, cubed (firm tofu makes a good substitute)
3 T vegetable oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 t garam masala
1/8 t garlic, minced
1/8 t ginger, minced
Salt, to taste
3-4 T cream, milk, or yogurt (optional)

Defrost spinach in microwave, about 6 minutes on high.
Purée spinach in blender to desired consistency.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil.  Brown paneer cheese, then remove from pot and drain on paper towels.
Heat another tablespoon of oil and brown chopped onions.  When browned, add minced garlic & ginger, and garam masala.  Add a few tablespoons of water if mixture looks dry.  Stir mixture for 30 seconds.
Add spinach purée to pot. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil.  For more sauce and creaminess, add cream, yogurt, or milk.
Return paneer to pot.  Gently stir to combine,
Serve with rice or naan.

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