One of the best things about Google+ was being able to reconnect with all my friends from Foodbuzz (RIP), and making many more new friends along the way! For those of you that don’t know, I started a Food Bloggers Community on Google+ back in December when communities were first made available to their chosen plussers. Luckily I was one of those lucky plussers and began the G+ Food Bloggers Community. If you’re a Food blogger, it’s the place to be. We are the premier Food Blogging Community on G+, with our membership closing in on 1000 bloggers. All this in just two short months!
So today my friends its my pleasure to introduce you to one of my G+ friends, Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen. When you visit Zesty South Indian Kitchen, get ready for a symphony of flavors and beautiful imagery. And Swathi blends the two together masterfully as she guides you through her culinary creations, one delicious dish after another. So get ready for some serious stomach rumblings as I give you……..
Zesty South Indian Kitchen
When Chef Dennis mentioned in the G+ Food Bloggers Community that he is inviting guest post in his blog, I immediately asked him for an opportunity and he responded with an immediate yes. I adore his blog; his is great chef and also a simple person who want to help with any question relating to food blogging. He also conducts lots of educational hangout in Google plus. This is Swathi who blog at Zesty South Indian Kitchen, and I am a stay at home mom of two beautiful kids and love to cook from scratch and also love fresh homemade bread. Spinach and cheese is a well recognized combo, and you can‘t go fail with that, whether it’s is a cheesy spinach lasagna or a Turkish sac boregi, you name it and every cuisine has understood this wonderful combo and made use of it in their dishes. Just like any other cuisine, Indian cuisine has also made a match between spinach and fresh Indian cheese called paneer. Paneer is always best when it is home made. Paneer as such doesn’t have much taste, but if you combine with other spices and flavors, it becomes delicious.
Palak paneer is also a restaurant favorite; you can see it in the menu without fail. As you know Indian cuisine is not limited to the dishes you encounter in US restaurants. It has lots of varieties just like the many languages prevalent in India. Palak paneer is part of the North Indian style of cooking. In North India, spinach or Palak is available in plenty during winter season. However saag paneer is entirely differ from palak paneer, as for the former one any type of greens can be used instead of spinach or palak. The authentic Saag Paneer is made with mustard greens, and paneer is added crumbly. Where as in palak paneer, spinach is cooked into gravy with spices and paneer is added as such or fried. I added fried paneer since it holds a better shape after cooking. You can make this curry rich by cooking with ghee and by adding heavy whipping cream. I prefer not to add heavy cream as it dilutes the wonderful green color.
In order to maintain the green color, I used only green chilies for spiciness, ginger and one tomato for the tanginess. Spices like cumin, dried fenugreek leaves were also added. Adding black pepper and lemon juice at the end of cooking will give extra boost of flavor. I didn’t do that step.
For this dish, I blanched fresh spinach and pureed with green chilies then added it to pureed sauteed onion and tomato, and spiced it up with cumin powder; garm masala dried fenugreeks leaves, coriander powder and a pinch of chili powder, then added fried paneer and mixed it in. You can use frozen spinach however I don’t recommend it as canned spinach has salt and preservatives already added.
I served this dish with chapathi/Indian flat bread. You can serve with any bread or flat bread, but in order to get full Indian meal look for chapathi or Nan.
Try it yourself it won’t disappoint you.
Here comes the recipe and thanks to Chef Dennis for this wonderful opportunity to do a guest post in his blog.
- 1 bunch of fresh spinach
- 1½ cups paneer, cut into 12 mm. (1/2") cubes
- 2 tbsp oil
- ¾ cup finely chopped onions
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- (1") piece ginger, grated
- 1 green chilies, finely chopped
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
- ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
- 3 fresh tomato or 2 tablespoon of tomato paste.
- salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ tablespoon Kasturi Methi/ dried fenugreek leaves
- Water 1 ½ cup for blanching
- 2 tbsp Heavy cream (optional if you want rich you can add this)
- Lemon juice of ½ lemon (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper ( optional)
- Blanch the spinach in a sauce pot with boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Drain, refresh with cold water and keep aside to cool for some time.
- In a small pan heat ghee and fry the paneer pieces until the sides becomes slightly brown. Keep this fried paneer in hot water until you ready to use.
- Blend in a mixer to a smooth purée with green chili and keep aside.
- Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan , add cumin seeds and onions and sauté on a medium flame till they turn translucent. To this add fresh tomato and cook once again until it become mushy. Then make puree of this onion and tomato and set aside.
- Heat a medium sauce pot and add tomato onion mixture, ginger -garlic paste and turmeric , coriander powder, garam masala and red chili powder and cook for about 2-3 minutes until oil starts to leaves the mixtures.
- Add the spinach purée and water mix well and cook on a medium flame for 2 minutes.
- Add the salt, and crushed dry fenugreek leaves, heavy cream (if using) and mix well.
- Add the paneer, mix gently and cook on a medium flame for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Serve hot.
- *You can add lemon juice and black pepper at the end to enhance more flavors.
What a beautiful and flavorful dish, thank you so much Swathi! Now before you forget, head on over to Zesty South Indian Kitchen and say hi to Swathi, just don’t forget to tell her Chef Dennis sent you!
Have a wonderful weekend, and remember Spring is just 6 short weeks away!