Sunday, August 29, 2010

Palak Paneer: The Emblem of Indian Cuisine

A. trotted off to college last week, and she had requested that we prepare many of her favorite dishes before she left. One of those dishes was the infamous palak paneer. I was more than happy to oblige, given that palak paneer has been my all-time favorite Indian dish since I was a toddler. Every year, my mother prepares palak paneer for my birthday, and I never, ever tire of it. How could I, given the creamy, spiced spinach flavored with cumin and garam masala, and of course, the soft, creamy cubes of paneer. I think of palak paneer as the emblem of Indian cuisine. After all, you find it in practically every Indian restaurant, and even those with just a basic knowledge of Indian cusine will more than likely be familiar with palak paneer. We prepare this dish at home each time we want to introduce someone to Indian cuisine. There exist, of course, numerous methods of perparing this delicacy. Some people fry the paneer, while some use it uncooked. There is often some variation in the spices and their proportions. I have never tasted any palak paneer quite like my mother's. Hers always turns out mouthwatering and just the way I like it, with the perfect balance of spices to please all palates; it is neither too spicy nor too mild, but just right. I have been less than thrilled by many versions prepared by restaurants, so I always prefer my mother's own recipe. I promise, after just one bite of this creamy spinach delight, you will never revert to restaurant palak paneer, or (God forbid!) the frozen versions again. Enjoy!

Palak Paneer:
About 1.5 cups of paneer
1 16 oz. bag of frozen spinach, thawed and partially squeezed
2 tbsp. oil
1 onion, peeled and cut into fourths
1 heaping tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
1 tsp. garam masala
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
salt to taste, or about 1 tsp.
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 cup cream

Put the onion pieces into a food processor, and process until finely chopped, but not ground. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion, and cook on medium heat until tansluscent and cooked. Add the corainder, cumin and cayenne powders. Then, add the tomato sauce, and cook for 1-2 minutes. In the meantime, process the spinach in the food processor until fine, but not a paste. Add in the spinach, cover, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until it achieves a creamy consistency. Add the salt, garam masala, and cream, and let it simmer for 2 more minutes. Finally, add the paneer cubes, cover and cook on low for about 5 minutes. Serve hot. Note: This picture was taken with candlelight on a night we had lost our electricity.

1 comments:

Rachana said...

Palak paneer is always a hit at my place too :-) Looks really tempting!

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