Palak Paneer
Palak Paneer

‘Spinach (Palak in Hindi) has excellent nutritional values and health benefits. It is rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Indian kitchens found ways to prepare this vegetable in different styles to bring out its vibrant earthiness and make it lip smacking even for fussy children who have natural aversion to greens.

Some of the popular spinach dishes found in Indian cuisine are Palak Chicken, Palak Meat, Palak Paneer, Palak Dal, Palak Pakora, Palak Shorba and Palak Paratha.

Soulfood Palette shares with you a very simple recipe of Palak Paneer (Cottage Cheese in Spinach Curry), a popular dish in north India. This combination of spinach and cottage cheese has a well-balanced contrast of textures and flavors. This dish requires very little time and effort to create, yet is extremely tasty and a visual treat with its soothing combination of bright green and white enhancing its gastronomic appeal.

In our version of this dish, we use no dried spices other than cumin seeds and salt. This allows the spinach and cottage cheese to showcase their brilliant flavors with sublime aroma of cumin seeds.

Ingredients:

* Spinach leaves(Palak)-500gms (discard the coarse stems)
* Cottage cheese(Paneer)- 350 gm
* Green chilies- 2-3
* Oil- 2 tbsp
* Butter- 1 tbsp
* Cumin seeds(Sabut Jeera)- 1tsp
* Onion – 1 medium(finely chopped)
* Garlic- 1 tbsp.(finely chopped)
* Salt to taste
* Lemon juice- ½ lemon
* Cream – 1-2tbsp
* Water

GARNISH (OPTIONAL) - Fresh crumbled uncooked cottage cheese, some cream or coriander leaves.

Method:

* Wash the spinach leaves well, under free flowing water.

* Heat about 750ml of water in a wide base pan. As it comes to boil, blanch the spinach leaves for about 40 seconds. Remove the leaves and refresh them by soaking them in ice cold water for 40 seconds.(This helps retain the beautiful bright green color of the spinach)

* Squeeze the leaves to remove the excess water and grind them into a fine puree along with the green chilies.

* Heat the oil and butter preferably in a nonstick pan. Add the cumin seeds and once they start to change color add the garlic. Sauté well for 2 minutes on medium heat and then add the onion.

* Sauté the onion, till it turns golden brown. The tempering is now ready.

* Add the pureed spinach with ½ a cup of water and mix well with the tempering. Let the curry boil for 5 minutes

* Cut the cottage cheese into medium size cubes and add it to the curry.

* Add salt (as per taste)and lemon juice andmix lightly (so that the cottage cheese cubes don’t crumble) cook for a couple of minutes.

* Take the pan off the heat and add the cream.

o Garnish as desired and serve hot preferably with Indian breads.

SOULFOOD TWISTS

* Traditionally when green leafy vegetables are cooked, we always add a bit of lemon (acidic) as it helps in the digestion of green leafy vegetables.

* To retain the vibrant green color of the spinach, always blanch and refresh the spinach and most importantly cook it in an uncovered pan.

Tishita Chopra is a home cook who runs Soulfood Palette-food with a twist. Simple wholesome food, that warms me up on a cold winter day and cools me down on a hot summer afternoon. It’s freshly made-to-order food, with varieties ranging from the steamed Christmas puddings to warm Burmese khow suey to quiches to creamy Bengali mustard fish. You can reach out through Facebook and view the Soulfood Palette Page or contact her on soulfood.palette@gmail.com OR tishchopra@gmail.com.

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