Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer

Also know as Palak Paneer, this is another popular and well-loved North Indian preparation using creamed spinach and Indian farmer’s cheese. You can substitute paneer with firm tofu – cut tofu into squares, dust lightly with flour and fry lightly. And I have cooked this with a mix of seasonal greens – chard and tender kale, beet and mustard greens. My preference is to keep the spinach in the recipe, and not eliminate it altogether, as it adds a touch of creaminess to the dish. Although tomato is not traditionally used, if there is one in the refrigerator that begs to be of service, I will. Kinda adds a tangy sweetness to it – like a #4 on a major scale if you know what what I mean. And yes, it’s okay to use oil instead of ghee or butter.

8 oz. paneer
2 cups of cooked spinach
4 tbsp. ghee or butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1.5 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
a pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 chopped tomato (optional)
1 green chilli, chopped
3/4 tsp. salt

  • In a pan, heat ghee and fry paneer until lightly browned
  • Remove paneer with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel
  • In the same pan, add chopped onions, chili, garlic and ginger pastes and stir fry until the onions are soft and lightly browned
  • Add cumin and coriander powders, nutmeg and stir for a few seconds
  • Add tomato, if using
  • Add cooked spinach, salt and mix well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  • When the spinach cools slightly, puree it to a fine paste
  • Add paneer, stir gently and cook until heated through¬†

I love the ECM genre. Eberhard Weber’s ‘Seriously Deep’ from his 1975 album Silent Feet sounds fresh, spacious washed in creamy pastels. Charlie Mariano’s divine soprano soars above the rhythm section. In the late 80’s when I was just getting my feet wet in jazz, I remember attending a jazz workshop conducted by Mariano in Bombay.

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