Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Paneer & Spinach

Forgive me for it’s been a week since my last post ……..but I have been busy in the kitchen. The other night I made Shai Paneer and Coconut Spinach. If my facts are straight I believe Shai paneer hails from the Northern Indian region known as Punjab. One of my favorite dishes to order at Indian restaurants. Coconut spinach, the way I have prepared it, is popular in East Africa. Both these dishes are fairly simple to make. I’ll start with the paneer.

First you’ll need to purchase paneer which I forgot to mention above is cheese. You’ll be able to find this at most Indian grocery stores. I used the Nanak brand; it comes in a white block which resembles firm tofu. You’ll then need to cut the paneer into bite size cubes. Note do not make these cubes to small because you don’t want the cheese to crumble before it’s done. Use a large red onion chopped finely; fry the onion in some vegetable oil until brown. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and then add the cubes of paneer.

Fry altogether until the paneer is a light golden color. Remove just paneer from pan so not to over cook. Start preparing the sauce. I used a ready-made chili and cumin paste (again you can find this at any Indian grocery store) if you decide to use this kind of paste be aware it usually comes in varying hotness (e.g. mild, really hot). Mix the paste, onions and garlic in the pan then add about 1/3 cup tomato paste (mixed with a little water to dilute) after you add the paste you’ll want to add about another 1 cup to 1 ½ cup of water (because tomato paste will thicken the sauce).

Add salt, pepper, and curry powder and 2 cloves to taste. Now because I don’t usually measure portions (I taste and eye-ball as I go) I am not sure enough to give definite measurements. My excuse is I blame this on the fact that I learned mainly from watching my mother and grandmother and they never measured therefore, I never learned. My advice is to taste the food as you go along to make sure you haven’t added too much of anything (salt, pepper, spices etc.) start with small quantities and add as needed. You’ll know what tastes good! My sauce was a little tart b/c of the lemon in the ready made cumin-chili paste. So I added about a Tbs of brown sugar to remedy the tartness.

This sauce should cook until it is nice and thick (not too thick see picture for reference). Once sauce is a nice thick consistency, add the cooked paneer and about ½ cup coconut milk (traditionally I think cream is used, so you can use this if you don’t have the coconut) simmer on low for about 20 mins or until the paneer is nice and soft and melts in your mouth! Voilà

Coconut Spinach
Take 1 package frozen collared greens and 1 package frozen spinach place in a medium size pot and add 2-3 cups water. This will need to cook until the greens and spinach have considerably shrunk. Once the greens have shrunk add salt or beef stock (I prefer this), pepper, coconut milk (about ½ cup). Let this simmer on low until the spinach looks creamy then you’re done.

As you can see from the picture I put all this over plain white rice. In addition, there is fried goat meat and kidney beans, those recipes I will give at a later date.

1 comment:

  1. I love paneer and the coconut spinach sounds wonderful! Thanks for posting!


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