Saturday, October 31, 2009

Palak Paneer - Fried Homemade Cheese Curds in a Flavorful Spinach Puree

By: Jennifer Kumar


1 Packet of Paneer (Make your own homemade paneer, recipe, with video, here.)
5-6 oz spinach (generally a small pack of spinach ready to use, prewashed from produce section)
1 cup roughly cut onion, then pureed
1 cup diced tomato, then pureed
1/4 tsp garlic paste
1/4 tsp ginger paste
1 cup water
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
3/4 tsp garam masala
salt to taste

1. Thaw paneer or make homemade paneer.
2. Heat water in a pan. When the water boils, put in the spinach. Let the spinach wilt, and drain the spinach. Keep the drained spinach water aside.
3. Heat a pan with three tablespoons oil. Fry the paneer cubes until all sides a golden brown. Set fried paneer on a plate with a paper towel on it. For a treat, try a fried paneer piece plain, it's very tasty! (Do not wash or put that pan in the sink, it can be reused to make the dish in, with the tastes from the fried paneer already in it, it's tasty.)
4. Keep ready the purees.
Roughly dice the onions, puree. Set aside.
Roughly dice the tomatoes, add in 1 cup water (use drained spinach water if desired), ginger and garlic paste and spices. Puree together. Set aside.
Puree the spinach with 1 cup water (use drained spinach water if desired). Keep aside.
5. Heat the same pan again and put in a tablespoon oil. Heat oil and put in ajwain seeds (this is optional but it gives a nice taste if you can add it, and adding the ajwain and smelling the aromas will tell you the oil is hot enough to sautee the pureed onions.).
6. When the oil is hot and/or the ajwain releases some aroma - add in the pureed onion. Stir this in the oil until the oil seems to look as if it's separating from the onion.
7. Add in the tomato puree and stir. Turn down the heat to medium. Keep stirring about 5 minutes.
8. Add in the spinach puree. When spinach puree is added, it may be necessary to put a top over the pan and turn down the heat a little, as it may begin to splatter out. Stir these all together, mix a few minutes. Once the heat reduces a little (between low and medium) let this simmer about 5-10 minutes to let the spices settle in.
9. After about 10 minutes just take a little bit out on a spoon and try it. Taste it to see if the spices have blended in nicely. If not, stir and simmer this for about 5 minutes more and repeat the tasting process.
10. When the spices seemed to mix well, add the fried paneer into and mix nicely.
11. Let this settle for 5-10 minutes.

Enjoy with rice or roti.

About 3-4 servings.

Tips: If you want to reduce the amount of oil, some people do not fry the paneer but put it in 'raw'. If desired one can do this, but the taste will be different and the paneer may crumble rather than staying in cubes when you put it into the paneer mix (step 10). Some may also bake it in the oven. Though I have heard of people baking it in the oven, I have not tried this.