Yes, I know. I keep pulling a disappearing every few weeks or so, but then I try to compensate by posting a number of recipes in one go :). This time I am posting a really delicious vegetarian recipe – palak/spinach with paneer/cottage cheese. I personally don’t like spinach, but this is one dish which I love spinach in – the spinach is grinded into a paste & the creaminess of the paneer/cottage cheese contrast beautifully making this a delicious vegetarian main course.
Also, this time instead of buying store-bought paneer/cottage cheese I experimented in making my own and I could not believe how good it was – it was so fresh & creamy & delicious and the best part is that it can easily be adapted in different flavors – a little bit of herbs to make Masala Paneer & some crushed red pepper to make Chilli Paneer. Will be posting the recipe soon & keep on experimenting with new flavors & recipes.
Palak Paneer – Spinach with Cottage Cheese
Spinach – 2 large bunches
Paneer (cottage cheese) – 200 grams (Store-bought or Home-Made)
Corn flour – for coating paneer/cottage cheese
Green chillies – 2-3 (roughly chopped)
Garlic – 6 cloves (finely chopped)
Onion – about 1/2 a medium onion (finely chopped)
Oil – 3 tablespoons
Cumin seeds/Zeera – 1/2 teaspoon
Crushed Red Chilli Pepper – 1 tsp (optional to make it more spicy)
Salt – to taste (about 2 tsp)
Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
Fresh cream – 4 tablespoons (optional)
For Prep: Pot of boiling water a pot of ice-cold water for blanching
Oil for shallow frying paneer/cottage cheese
Put a pan of salted water on boil. Remove stems of spinach & thoroughly in running water. Blanch in salted boiling water for two minutes. Take spinach out of the boiling water and immediately add it in the ice-cold water. Drain & squeeze out excess water. The reason that it is added in cold water after boiling is so that the beautiful green color of the spinach is retained.
Blend/Grind spinach into a fine paste along with green chillies. This step can be done ahead and the spinach/green chili paste can be kept in the refrigerator for about 2 days.
Chop paneer into one inch by one inch by half inch pieces. Toss in cornflour to coat & shallow-fry in hot oil till brown on all sides. Drain paneer on a kitchen towel and keep aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet/wok/pot. Add cumin seeds. When they begin to change colour, add chopped garlic and sauté for half a minute. Add chopped onion and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes till light golden. Add the spinach puree and mix well. Keep the heat on low the spinach puree has a habit of sputtering and that gets messy.
Add salt & red chilli flakes & adjust seasoning if required. Add water if required. When the gravy comes to a boil, stir in lemon juice. Add half of the paneer and mix. Garnish with remaining paneer & cream & serve.
Note: The paneer and cream should be added at the last minute, so that it can remain the crisp texture. My usual habit is to make the spinach mixture, and then re-heat it just before serving and pouring it in a dish. After that I add the paneer and/or cream and serve.