May 19, 2010

Something old, something borrowed, something green

Palak Paneer (Cottage cheese in Spinach curry)

How do you come back after more than a month of hiatus? First order of business: Update 359 Days of DSM, which had been gathering cobwebs since I decided to hang up my blogging gloves and pick up US Government and History books. DSM is almost updated. It took almost two weeks to update a month and a half of clicks. As of today, only three days remain to be uploaded. Fruits of procrastination are not sweet, believe me!
Next, to figure out blogger in draft and revamp DSM to look all spiffy and hi-tech like, err... the other spiffy and hi-tech blogs.
While in the midst of updating a daily blog (yes, I am aware it is an oxymoron) and revamping the original blog, I decided to do a quick Google search for Kothimbir Vadi (roughly translated, steamed cilantro pudding?) and landed on Nupur’s One Hot Stove and almost sizzled with excitement over her The Adaptation Edition. A perfect come back for yours truly who has a hard time following a recipe to a T.
Besides, the way I look at it, Indian cooking is versatile enough to substitute chole masala instead of garam masala and add cream cheese instead of heavy cream in a restaurant-style curry. The result is unpredictable but rarely, if ever, undesirable.

Take note all those Nay-Sayers who think Indian cooking is too involved. Most of the time, a teaspoon or two of garam masala, some turmeric, red chili and mustard and/or cumin seeds is all you need in your pantry to cook up Indian food.

I understand the recipe challenged ones need exact measurements in teaspoons and tablespoons, but most Indian cooks just eyeball their spices while cooking and if you are like me, keep going back to the kitchen to measure the spice in a teaspoon while writing down the recipe.
However, I digress. The search for kothimbir vadi was prompted by a surplus of cilantro and was subsequently discarded in the absence of a steamer. However, a big box of baby spinach sealed the deal in favor of palak paneer. I do have a tried and tested go-to recipe but the lure of Nupur’s event and the luxury of some free time prompted another google search. This time, I zeroed in on Indira’s Palak Paneer, Punjabi shtyle and took some tips along the way from that very passionate Vah Chef (if you do click on this link, ignore the ditsy girl who can’t help overact on a cooking show!?).

One pot palak paneer. Click for recipe.

Here’s my version two of Palak Paneer, with no blanching of spinach, which frankly, I don’t care for. I like that Indira sautés the spinach in some oil, garlic and green chili, a girl after my own heart. Vah Chef adds kasoori methi to the mix, which does bring out the flavor of spinach, if it does have one. I have on occasion added frozen sarson (mustard leaves) as well to enhance the flavor of spinach.

Palak Paneer

2 bunches of spinach
2-3 green chilies, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped fine
1 big tomato, chopped fine or pureed
1 tbsp my MIL’s secret paste (ginger-garlic green chili)
1 tsp coriander cumin paste
2 tsp garam masala powder (I use Sanjeev Kapoor’s Kadhai masala)
1 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp of kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 slab of tofu/ paneer, sliced into bite sized chunks

Wash spinach in plenty of water and discard any tough stems. Do not bother chopping the spinach.
Heat a heavy bottom vessel and add a teaspoon of oil. Add chilies and garlic and cook for a minute on medium heat till the raw smell of garlic turns fragrant. Add the washed spinach and let it wilt.
Turn off the heat once the spinach wilts. Let cool and then grind to a smooth paste.
Wipe clean the same vessel you wilted the spinach in and add one to two tablespoons of oil. As the oil heats up add the chopped spinach and the ginger-garlic green chili (GGGc) paste. On medium heat sauté the onions and the GGGc paste till fragrant.
Add all the dry powders except kasoori methi and sauté for another minute till the aromas invade every nook and cranny of your kitchen.
Add the kasoori methi and the chopped tomato (puree) and cook till the oil separates.
Add the pureed spinach and mix thoroughly. Add the paneer/ tofu, adjust the salt and cook for about ten minutes before turning it off.

1. I do not care to blanch spinach or any other veggies for that matter. To me it is a bothersome and time consuming step to cooking.
2. I also do not care for fried paneer/tofu. If you prefer it, go ahead and fry away all you want. Indira fries her paneer in ghee and I can imagine it tastes as good as it can get.


  1. I love the nonchalance with which you cook. Only because I'm like that. I'm a finisher :P

    I like to finish up things in the fridge, so I'm known to throw random things and cook our daily meals. Masalas- let's not even get there

    I love the colour on your gravy. Again, something I've not thought about except hear it from my husband, constantly!

  2. Oh I can't take my eyes off that verdant curry- thanks for the entry for the Adaptation event. And no, you don't need to send a picture; I don't include pictures in my round-ups.

  3. Hey Jaya

    curry looks yummy and colourful!!

  4. Welcome back!
    It happens to me-in search for one recipe and ending up finishing another. Looks delicious.

  5. It was nice to see you after a long gap. Love the green color of your palak paneer. Looks Fabulous . How are your studies going dear?

    Hamaree Rasoi

  6. Gud to see you back ..and palak paneer looks awesome and liked the colour so much...

  7. Nice to have you back! And the dish looks absolutely delicious. Hope to see you on a regular basis at both blogs.

  8. Good to see you back! I love palak paneer ...yumm :)

  9. I always love quick simple recipes like this one. Once tried boiling everything together and pureed it like you have said. Me too for no fry paneer .. they tend to harden. :-)

  10. That's a gorgeous colour. Earlier, I used to boil, grind and cook. Now I boil, cook and grind. Then the paneer goes in.

  11. wwah, look who is back!! Great to see you back Jaya, hope you are getting a much needed break.
    Love the rich color of the palak curry.

  12. I dont fry paneer either. I was told by someone once that people fry paneer of its stale. Fresh should be used as it is.

    Like the color on your curry!

  13. good to see ya :-)

    How I am in love with that bright green color. I can see myself licking the spoon shiny clean. It is the kasuri methi that makes A eat palak paneer :-)

  14. You have a wonderful blog here:) Love the green color of your sauce!!



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