So today my friends it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen with her Palak Paneer.
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 the winter season. However, saag paneer is entirely different 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 an extra boost of flavor. I didn’t do that step.
For this dish, I blanched the fresh spinach and pureed with green chilies then added it to pureed sauteed onion and tomato, and spiced it up with cumin powder; gram 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 chapati/Indian flat bread. You can serve with any bread or flat bread but in order to get full Indian meal look for chapati 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
- 1 1/2 cups paneer cut into 12 mm. (1/2") cubes
- 2 tbsp oil
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onions
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- piece ginger grated, 1"
- 1 green chilies finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder haldi
- ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
- 3 tablespoon fresh tomato or 2 of tomato paste.
- salt to taste
- teaspoon ½ coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ tablespoon Kasturi Methi/ dried fenugreek leaves
- cup Water 1 ½ for blanching
- 2 tbsp Heavy cream optional if you want rich you can add this
- Lemon juice of ½ lemon optional
- teaspoon ¼ 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.