I came across this version of palak paneer when eating at a rather classy restaurant couple of years ago at a celebratory dinner. We rather enjoyed the rich taste of it though it did blow a hole in the pocket. And of course I had to try and reproduce the same in my own kitchen. One can never have too many greens on the plate, after all.
Preparing the paneer: I usehomemade cottage cheesefrom toned milk. I cut up the paneer in large chunks. I like to marinate the paneer. For this particular recipe, I chopped up a few mint leaves, grated some star anise and mixed these up in a cup of curds. I added salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder and allowed the paneer cubes to steep in this for some hours. I store the excess marinade in the refrigerator and use it up in other curries.
The paneer softens and absorbs flavor. I then grill the cubes on thestovetop, though they can be used as they are too.
Preparing the greens: I carefully washed about two cups of mint leaves and fried them in a drop of oil. I then ground this to a paste using only as much water as was required to grind it smoothly, and transfered the ground mint to the pan again where I continued to stir it on low flame till all water evaporated and a thick dry paste was left behind. I kept this aside.
I carefully washed a large bunch of spinach leaves. I fried these too, ground them to a puree using sufficient water. I kept this aside too.
Putting them together: I finely chopped up the following -
one large onion
one inch of ginger
five to six cloves of garlic
one green chilli
In the pan, I heated a spoon of oil and added a bay leaf. I then fried the ginger, garlic and chilli in that order. Then I added the onion and stirred till translucent. To this I added half a teaspoon of coriander powder, quarter teaspoon of cumin powder, a pinch of turmeric powder and stirred well. Tomatoes went in next and I cooked all this together for a few minutes.
I then added the mint paste and stirred well till it dispersed througout. I then added the spinach puree and stirred well, adding a bit of water. Requisite salt was stirred into it. I let this simmer for five to ten minutes. I put in the paneer cubes next. I let it simmer some more till it thickened to a sauce-like consistency and then turned off the stove.
I garnished this with a teaspoon of finely grated paneer.We had this with chapattis.
I do think the homemade version was a lot easier on the tummy, not just the wallet.
This is my entry to theWYF: Side dishevent hosted by EC of Simple Indian Food.