Palak Paneer - Spinach & Cottage Cheese Gravy
Certain gravies at home or in a restaurant , get a spot as specials or a regular classic. If its vegetarian curries/gravies - I cannot imagine one without a paneer or mushroom as a star ingredient. Two of my favourite veggie delights, that I'd be happy to eat for weeks together , if and when I give up on meat or for those non meat days :) So, I also think Spinach as an ingredient is highly under rated, keeping its nutritional value aside. This green leafy bunch tastes amazing when added finely chopped in a french style scrambled egg, spinach and cheese combo as a filling in any goodie is fabulous and then of course a rich fried kofta with a green hue makes a perfect date night dinner for two. Did I get you salivating already??
Palak Paneer aka Spinach puree cooked in an Indian spice mix and fresh cottage cheese cubes . This one's a classic, an all time favourite when it comes to North Indian cuisine. I still remember when Mom made this for the very first time, all of us where like - what's this green chutney like thing with paneer in it? Blame it on Sanjeev Kapoor and his weekly recipes that the women in our family, ardently followed. And as kids we were the guinea pigs or beneficiary of these experiments in their kitchen. No Complaints though!!
The trick in this recipe is to ensure that you blanch those green leaves of a spinach well and not over cook them , when added to the final stages of cooking. And lets not forget , some fresh cream drizzled on top takes this yummy dish to a tantalisingly different level. Fresh ground spices , when sautéing the onions and tomatoes also add a superb dimension of flavours to this easy peasy gravy. Well then of course, as you all know I do not post super complicated recipes here !!
3 Large cups of Spinach leaves, washed well
2 large tomatoes - finely chopped
1 medium sized onion - chopped
5 garlic cloves - coarsely ground
1 tsp - Garam Masala
1/2 tsp - Turmeric powder
1 tsp - Coriander powder
1 tbsp - Kasuri Methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
1/2 tsp - Chilli powder
1-2 - Green chilli
1/2 tsp - Cumin Powder
Salt to taste
5 tbsp - Oil for cooking
200 grams - Paneer, cubed
1. Heat 2 glasses of water in a vessel, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil . Add the whole spinach leaves and cook on a closed lid for 3-4 mins. Immediately strain the hot water and place the blanched spinach leaves, under cold running water.
2. Once cool, blend the spinach leaves & green chilli to a fine puree like consistency. Do not add any water.
3. In a cooking pan or a deep dish, heat oil. Add the chopped onion and garlic paste, sauté till the onions are slightly brown.
4. Next add chopped tomatoes and dry spice powders except garam masala and cook until tomatoes soften & oil separates.
5. Bring the flame down to a low, add spinach puree and stir well. Check for spice, salt levels and add in 1/2 cup basis the consistency required.
6. Add garam masala, 1 tbsp curd, paneer cubes and give one final stir, sprinkle kasuri methi and cook with a closed lid for 4-5 mins on a low flame.
7. Finally add fresh cream and switch off the flame.
Your Palak paneer is ready to be served with hot rotis or parathas :)