My first and only previous attempt at making palak paneer was, how shall I put it, a fiasco? Yes, that would be the right word to describe it. All I knew about palak paneer was that it was essentially pureed palak or spinach and paneer or Indian cottage cheese cooked together; I had paneer and spinach in my fridge, hence the decision to make palak paneer. That a recipe was missing, and that I did not know what other ingredients went in, did not bother me; I ploughed on bravely, boiling and pureeing, sautéing and stirring and essentially throwing in whatever came to hand.
At the dining table (or rather, a cardboard box that served as a dining table – we were just getting started), the husband sampled the green curry with his usual (and sometimes over) enthusiasm towards food. Having tasted it earlier, I knew it was not great, and had warned him so. Nevertheless, I hoped he would vehemently disagree with me and declare it the best paneer he had ever eaten. OK, maybe I am exaggerating a bit (I do enjoy a touch of drama), but I did hope he would at least say it was passable or not as bad as I thought it was. This is what he said, “You know Indu, it just isn’t possible to make paneer curry at home the way they do in restaurants. It is not your fault.” Ouch! Though his words were meant to console, they left me wondering why he could not have eaten his meal in silence, or why he could not have talked about happier things like the weather, and whether it was only him or had the cosmos destined all men to be tactless.
A couple of years had gone by since that fateful day (what did I tell you about my inclination towards drama?) and I decided it was time for one more attempt at palak paneer. I wanted to make sure it was good, so this time, I browsed through many recipes online, and realized that this was a very mildly spiced curry with the flavours coming from the spinach and paneer and the tiniest bit of spices; whatever it was, it definitely did not need that heaped tablespoonful of garam masala that I had added earlier.
This is how I made it this time:
You will need:
My first and only previous attempt at making palak paneer was, how shall I put it, a fiasco? Yes, that would be the right word to describe it. All I knew about palak paneer was that it was essentially pureed palak or spinach and paneer or Indian cottage cheese cooked together; I had paneer and spin
Course: main course
Cooking Time: 30 mins
200 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
3 large bunches fresh spinach 300 grams
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 large onion , minced (about 1/2 cup onion paste)
1 small tomato , minced (about 1/4 cup tomato paste)
3 green chilies , slit lengthwise (or adjust according to tolerance)
4 tablespoons fresh cream (optional, I couldn’t resist)
4 tablespoons oil (any refined cooking oil)
To taste, salt
As required , Water
Dice paneer into one 1cm x 1cm x 1cm pieces. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a non stick frying pan and fry the paneer to a golden brown colour.
Wash spinach thoroughly in running water until no dirt remains on the leaves. Blanch the leaves in salted boiling water for a couple of minutes. Transfer the leaves immediately to a bowl of chilled water. This prevents the spinach from being cooked further and helps retain the vibrant green colour of the leaves. Drain the water, squeeze out excess water and grind the spinach into a smooth paste.
Add remaining oil into the frying pan and add cumin seeds. Fry for a few seconds and pour in the minced onion. Fry till the colour of the onion turns to a golden brown. Toss in the chopped ginger, garlic, green chilies and kasuri methi. Saute till fragrant and add the minced tomato. Stir for a few more seconds, then add pureed spinach and water. Mix well, and adjust seasoning. When the gravy comes to boil, add the fried paneer and lemon juice and mix together. Cook for a minute more, and finally add fresh cream.
Kulcha Recipe by Indu Mathew indugetscooking.cucumbertown.com