Sunday, January 13, 2013

Palak Paneer

One of my favourite Indian dishes! Palak means spinach, while paneer is the Hindi word for fresh cheese. This recipe is not only delicious, but very simple to make. You can buy paneer ready-made at some South Asian grocery stores, but it's fun and easy to make your own. If you do decide to make the paneer from scratch, I recommend doing it the day before you plan to eat the dish, so it has plenty of time to drain.

For the paneer ...

1 litre whole milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Firstly, prepare a container to drain the cheese in. A colander or sieve, lined with two layers of cheesecloth and propped over a container to catch the whey, works well. Heat the milk over medium heat in a large pot. When the milk begins to rise, stir in the lemon juice. The milk should immediately start to separate into spongy cream-coloured curds (the paneer) and yellowish-green watery whey. After the curds and whey have separated completely, remove the pot from the heat. Collect the curds in the cheesecloth, and run them under cold water to remove any traces of the lemon juice. Press the rest of the liquid out by binding the paneer in the cheesecloth and placing a weight on it, preferably leaving it overnight in the fridge before using it. Once cold and firm, cut the paneer into cubes.

Cheese curds a-draining

For the palak ...

2 bunches spinach, washed and chopped [silverbeet also seems to work OK]
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon cumin
salt, to taste
garam masala, to taste
red chilli powder, to taste

Cook the spinach and onion till soft (use microwave or steamer). Cool slightly, then blend the spinach and onion till you have a gorgeous green sludge. Heat the oil in a pan, and fry the ginger and garlic for a minute. Add the other spices, then add the spinach mixture and cook for four to five minutes. Add the paneer cubes and heat through. Serve hot with naan or roti, or as a side dish for curries.

The spinach mixture, cooked and waiting to meet the paneer

Palak meets paneer. (Photo taken before the two were
combined and reheated, so you can see what the cheese cubes
look like.) We'll be eating this alongside a biryani tonight!

1 comment:

Denise said...

Oh that looks wonderful. I wish my son would eat cheese ... ah well, maybe I can make it for the rest of us!