Waiter: “What would you like to order?”
Her: “1 Dal Makhani, 1 Palak Paneer, 2 garlic and 2 plain naans.”
That’s our standard order every time we go out to eat at an Indian restaurant. We don’t even have to look at the menu (well, most of the time we don’t). My sister absolutely loves palak paneer, which is basically creamed spinach that’s been spiced and has chunks of paneer (an Indian cheese) in it. And my mom can’t go without Daal (a staple in our household). Due to my sister’s high demand for palak paneer, my mom has definitely attempted to make it at home. But when my mom cooks, she doesn’t use any garlic or onion, thus compromising the taste of the gravy. Of course, you can make a solid palak paneer without onions or garlic, it just won’t taste like what you eat at a restaurant.
Enter Cooking with Aparna 🙂
- 2 packets of frozen chopped spinach
- Cubed paneer, shallow fried till golden brown.
- ½ red onion
- 1 roma tomato
- Chopped 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- ¼-1/2 cup cream (This amount depends on how creamy you want it. I used about ¼th cup, and then also used some full fat yogurt).
- 2-3 green chilies
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons canola/vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons red chili powder (less if you don't like spice)
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- A dash of lemon/lime juice
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup water, as needed.
- Thaw the spinach in your microwave according to package instructions. Then, transfer spinach to a blender and puree. Don't squeeze out the excess water. You need the water to help form the right consistency. You want the spinach to look like a gravy, instead of lumps of chopped spinach. I've tried doing this pureeing with an immersion blender and it just doesn't work. So use a blender!
- In a large saucepan, add canola/vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add cumin, red chili powder, coriander powder, green chilies, ginger, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. You want to cook the spices and onions/garlic well: about 5-8 minutes on medium heat. If the spices are burning or dry, add a dash of water. This is the base of your gravy, so the point is to get all the spices/garlic/ginger to marry together.
- Add garam masala, spinach mixture and cream/yogurt/water, and lemon juice. Add salt to taste. Drop in the golden paneer cubes and cook for about 10-15 minutes, uncovered.
- Garnish with chopped tomatoes and/or grated paneer and serve with naan or rice!