Sunday, February 21, 2016

Palak Paneer

"Palak Paneer" is one of the most popular North Indian preparations of Paneer or cottage cheese during the winter months.
Winter in Northern India means a lot of fresh green leafy vegetables referred to as "Saag", the markets are usually flooded with them and in our house one or the other form of "Saag" is cooked almost everyday.

"Palak Paneer"
Palak Paneer is one of our family favorites, a mildly spicy preparation of Paneer in Spinach gravy. Usually served along with chapati's.
Here is a simple and very easy to follow recipe of "Palak Paneer".

Ingredients

Palak/ Spinach - 500grams
Paneer,cubed - 300grams
Onion, roughly chopped - 1 medium
Tomato, roughly chopped - 1 medium
Garlic- 3 cloves (fat ones)
Ginger, chopped - 1 inch piece
Green chilies, chopped - 2 pcs
Coriander powder - 2 teaspoons
Red Chili powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
Garam masala - 1/4th teaspoon
Kasoori Methi Dry - 1 teaspoon
Clove - 3-4
Cinnamon - 1 inch
Green cardamom - 2 pieces
Oil - 2 +1 tablespoon
Salt to taste

For the Tempering (Optional)

Cumin Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Green chili, slit - 2 pieces
Oil - 2 teaspoon

For Garnish

Ginger, julienne - 1/2 teaspoon
Crumbled paneer - 1 tablespoon
Method

Clean and wash Palak / Spinach leaves in running water, I try to keep most of the stem until and unless its really very tough and stringy.


Place a pot with around 3-4 cups of water and salt, bring it to a boil, add the palak leaves and cover. Turn off the flame and let the leaves sit in it for 3-4 minutes, or until they become tender.



Keep another bowl ready with around 3-4 cups of ice cold water and quickly transfer the blanched palak leaves into the ice bath.




Putting the palak leaves in this will stop the leaves from over cooking and will maintain the green colour.
Once cool transfer the blanched leaves into a grinder and make a smooth puree and keep aside.



Boil the chopped onions, tomatoes and 3 cloves of garlic along with half a teaspoon of salt until tender.



Let this cool completely and then grind to make a smooth paste.



In a small bowl combine the coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder add a tablespoon two of water and make a paste and keep aside.



Heat a frying pan with a tablespoon of oil and place the cubed paneer in a single layer and turn at intervals to ensure that the paneer in fried on all sides. This step is optional and you can omit it completely and use raw paneer.



Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the kadhai and add the cloves, cinnamon and green cardamom, once the spices start to release there aroma add the masala paste, fry until oil starts to appear on the sides.




Add the garlic onion tomato paste and fry until oil starts to leave the sides.




Add the Palak puree and cook for 2-3 minutes. Check the salt at this stage and if needed adjust accordingly.




Once the bubbles start to pop add the pan fried paneer along with chopped green chilies and ginger, mix well and cook , check the consistency and if need adjust with reserved palak stock. Cook for 3-4 minutes, add the Garam masala along with crushed Kasoori methi leaves. Mix well and turn off the flame.




For the tempering.

Heat oil in a small pan, once hot add the cumin seeds, as soon as they start to crack, turn off the flame and add the slit green chilies. Quickly pour this over the ready Palak Paneer, and cover and keep until ready to serve.

(Really sorry as I don't have pictures of this step, will surely update the same soon.)

Garnish with julienned ginger and crumbled paneer.
Serve hot.

Notes:

These days most vegetables are available all year round but they taste best when they are in season. Try to use tender palak leaves, as they are full of nutrients and flavor.
I have used frozen paneer, hence had to slightly fry them however if you are using fresh paneer, then its fine to skip this step.
During winter Dill or Sova is available in the market you could add a table spoon of chopped sova once you add the paneer, this adds more flavor to the dish.














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