Paneer, or “Indian Cottage Cheese” as it’s known this side of the world, is about as Punjabi as Punjabi food can get; if you haven’t tried it you haven’t really savoured north Indian cuisine. And before you try, it’s NOT as abstract as it sounds; it’s rather readily available at many Asda and Tesco stores and is definitely well worth the hunt just for it’s versatility. You can cook it in a variety of curries and styles, I suppose a bit like potatoes. You can fry, saute or curry it, make it dry or with gravy, with butter, spinach, yogurt, coconut milk,..., I think you get the picture. Here’s the first of the variations that we (i.e. the boyfriend) love. Palak Paneer literally translates as Spinach-y Cottage Cheese; it’s a luscious, creamy spinach gravy studded with rich, bite-size cubes of sauteed paneer. Let me know what you think.
500g fresh spinach
1tsp cumin seeds
Finely minced green chili (as per taste)
150ml double cream
1 ½ tsp garam masala
3 tbsp salt
2 tsp ground coriander/cumin powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
How to make:
1. Remove the stems from the spinach and wash thoroughly in running water. Blanch in salted boiling water for three minutes and then drain immediately and refresh with cold water to ensure it doesn’t go dull in colour. Squeeze out excess water.
2. Chuck the spinach into a food processor and bring down to a very fine paste.
3. Dice paneer into one inch cubes and heat oil/ghee in a non-stick pot.
4. Add cumin seeds, chopped chili and asafoetida into hot oil. When they begin to change colour, add the paneer cubes and sauté for 5 minutes until they take on a light brown colour.
5. Throw in the spinach puree and stir. Add salt, garam masala, ground cumin/coriander, lemon juice, sugar and a little water if required. When the gravy comes to a boil stir in 100ml fresh cream and boil for further minute. Serve hot, swirled with an drizzle of double cream with rice and naan.