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Palak Paneer

RECIPE

This recipe for Palak Paneer comes from India and was commissioned to compliment the earlier published article entitled Indian Cooking . . . how did it become so popular?

Palak paneer is a thick gravy made of spinach and paneer. It mainly originated from India. Palak saag can be traced back to the Harappan civilization. At that time, they used to cook saag with milk. Paneer was introduced in India during the Mughal Empire.

Palak paneer is an important part of Indian cuisine, eaten all over India but mostly famous in north India, specifically in Punjab. It is very nutritious. Paneer fulfils the need for protein in vegetarians, and this may be one of the reasons why it is so popular in India, where most of the population is vegetarian.

Traditionally the dish can be eaten with roti, naan or even with boiled rice. It goes well with lassi, a kind of drink made of thin yoghurt, mixed with sugar or salt and cumin powder.

Nutritionally, it is recommended to eat curd or orange juice with spinach by diet specialists.

The main ingredients of palak paneer are spinach and paneer (cottage cheese).

Ingredients for Palak Paneer

500gm spinach
Paneer (shop bought or home-made)
Onion (chopped)
Ginger and garlic (crushed)
Tomatoes (chopped)
Garam masala
Turmeric
Coriander
Cumin powder
Chilli powder
Cumin seeds
Salt to taste
Oil or Ghee
Butter

Ingredients for paneer:
Milk
Citric acid or vinegar or lemon juice

How to make Palak Paneer

  • Wash the spinach thoroughly and chop in into really small pieces and boil.
  • When it is soft, take off the heat and let it cool. Blend in a blender into a fine paste, not adding any water.
  • Heat some oil or ghee in a pan and add the chopped onion and fry until golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic and fry.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, garam masala, turmeric, coriander, cumin powder, chilli powder and salt. Cook until tomatoes are completely mashed and then add the spinach and let it simmer on a low heat.
  • You can either buy paneer from a shop or make it at home. To make it boil the milk and while it is still boiling add one of the citrus agents mentioned above and keep mixing it until milk curdles and leave whey. Strain it through a muslin cloth and squeeze all the whey out, press this cloth by using anything heavy for 2 hours. Cut it into cubes when it is ready. Leftover whey can be used to knead flour for making chapattis.
  • Heat the ghee or oil in a separate pan and fry the paneer cubes until golden brown on all sides. Add these to the spinach gravy and simmer for another 20 minutes.
  • Heat some more oil or ghee in a pan and add cumin seeds, when they stop splattering add some red chilli powder and take off the heat. Add this to the top of the palak paneer.
  • Garnish with a piece of butter when it is ready to eat.

This dish goes best with butter naan.

"Just a comment about the quantity of ingredients in this series of recipes, I would say that most people add in different amounts according to how they like it. Recipes are either normally passed on or people learn by experimenting with different amounts of spices until they get the taste they like, for example, I know I put different amounts of thngs into curries than my family and friends do, everyone does tend to work out how much they like."

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Harpreet Virdee

 

 

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