Sunday, June 27, 2010

Palak Paneer (Redux)

The CC was asked for the recipe here.

Follow these steps, and you will nail this delicious dish every single time.

The CC will assume that you can buy paneer at a local store. If not, you can make your own but that's a lot more work (and grist for a future post.)

Be aware, that this version sticks fast and close to the peasant roots of the dish. You will find innumerous fancified versions of this, mostly on the spicing front, but there's a time and place for fancification and there's a time and place for eating a "down home" cooked meal.

This is the home-cooked version that screams "comfort food".


4 large bunches of spinach (read below)
1" ginger
4 garlic cloves
4 green chillies
1 large red onion
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp garam masala

peanut oil (read below.)


Cube the paneer into uniform cubes. Heat about 1/4 cup of peanut oil and fry the cubes. This takes a while because you need to keep flipping the cubes to make them uniform. Also, a tad problematic because the paneer contains moisture so there's a tendency for the oil to splatter. Be VERY careful!

(And yes, this step is crucial.)

Drain the paneer on paper towels. Set aside.

Wash the spinach carefully, and dry. (The local spinach that the CC buys is covered in dirt. His basin is filled with a full layer of dirt when he finishes washing the spinach. Your's may differ but you have been warned.)

Be aware that spinach shrinks a lot when cooked. A lot.

You are better off buying more than you think you need than ending up with a huge amount of paneer with some green things hanging on. The CC has made this mistake so many times that he routinely tells people -- buy more spinach -- more, more, more.

In a food processor, process the onion, green chillies, ginger and garlic to a loose paste. This should not be totally smooth just till they are all shredded into fine pieces. (This is a standard step in many many North Indian recipes so you should memorize this.)

Fry the paste in some oil. Toss in the cumin till it is fragrant. Add the spinach. Toss it around. Marvel at the forces of nature that an entire pot of spinach turns into so very little. Where did it all go?

(Also marvel at the fact that raw spinach is poisonous but cooked spinach is absolutely delightful. Take that, you "raw food" fetish fuckers! Bet you didn't know that one.)

If you have an "immersion blender" (the CC highly recommends it!), blend the mixture to a smooth paste. Otherwise use an ordinary blender.

Add the garam masala, salt, and the paneer cubes. (The quantities for the masala are approximate. You may need more.)

Heat and serve.


Amanda said...


macavity said...

One observation -- paneer in the US is rather fatty and browns very nicely on a non-stick surface, thus eliminating the need to to fry the cubes in peanut oil. We've had consistent good results with this method.