Monday, June 28, 2010

Palak Paneer

This month Sara is hosting Think Spice - Think Garam Masala an event started by Sunita and the participants have to prepare any vegetarian dish using Garam Masala. This event was just in time for me to use the lovely jar of homemade Garam Masala I got from P. She is one of those super women I know  (not that I know many ), who produce amazing food in the kitchen but still manage to work all day, pick/drop kids at station, finish day-to-day shopping and still look lovely with no signs of fatigue every-time I meet her. I suppose its the "power yoga" she practices. Back to the topic - she gave me this jar and said " Do you know we managed to break our dining table trying to grind this?". I couldn't stop smiling. Apparently P and her kids were all enthusiastic about this fancy grinder they found to grind the spices that had to be fixed to a base like a table and rotated with (some muscle power) to get a fine powder, and in the process managed to break the table :-).
Garam Masala just literally means hot spice mix is widely used in Indian cooking, similar to the curry powder. I make my blend  and have given the recipe below.
Palak Paneer (spinach and Indian cheese Paneer in a gravy) is a staple side dish served at most restaurants in India alongside Indian breads like naan or roti. I like this simple recipe which is just blanched spinach ground to a smooth paste and slightly fried Paneer is added to the spinach gravy. Some do use tomatoes to cut the taste of spinach but I like it just like that or maybe with some cream for special occasions.
Spinach 2 bunches 
Onion 1
Ginger 1 inch piece
Garlic 2-3 cloves
Garam masala - 1tsp
Paneer 200 grams cubed
Cumin seeds 1tsp
Green chillies - 2-4 depending on taste
Clove 1
Salt to taste
Blanch spinach for 2-3 minutes and puree it in a processor with onion, ginger, garlic, chillies until smooth. Put the paneer in hot water for a minute to soften it and drain. (Shop bought Paneer seems to be a bit hard and this is necessary). In a frying pan, heat some oil and splutter the cumin seeds. Now fry the paneer cubes until golden on both sides. Add the spinach puree, salt, garam masala to this and let it simmer for 10-15 min. You could add some water if its too thick. Serve with some naan or flat bread.
For Garam Masala
Cumin seeds 2-3 tbsp
Coriander 2-3 tbsp
Black Pepper 1 tbsp
Star Anise 2
Nutmeg 1/2 tsp
Clove 4-5
Cinnamon 1 large stick
Black and Green Cardamom 2 & 7
Bay leaf 1
Slightly roast all the ingredients in a pan, cool it and powder it in a processor until fine and store it in a air-tight jar. Just make sure you do not break a table in doing so ;-).


Sara said...

Thanks for the lovely entry. nice click.

Saraswathi Iyer

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