Recipes: Palak Paneer

I had been craving for some Palak Paneer for a few weeks now when I chanced upon this recipe on Facebook from Chef Sanjyot Keer of Your Food Lab. The recipe was intriguing enough to tempt me and when I chanced upon some spinach over the weekend, I knew it was time to try this recipe. This is very different from the usual recipe that I make which is inspired by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe which is very simple. This one is slightly more complicated, but was super delicious and was a hit at home!

Palak Paneer

Ingredients:

  • 2 big bunches spinach or palak, chopped
  • 1 big cup frozen paneer (soaked in hot water for 30 minutes)
  • 1 big pod of garlic, grated or chopped finely
  • 1 large onion, cut in half and then sliced vertically
  • 4-5 green chillies
  • 1 bunch of coriander leaves
  • 1/2 cup beaten yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp black or pink salt
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  • Take a large pan and boil water in it. When the water is boiling, blanch the spinach in it for 2-3 minutes and remove. Soak it in a large bowl of iced water for a  few minutes before removing and draining the water. This preserves the lovely green colour of the spinach.
  • When the spinach is cool, blend it with the green chillies and coriander leaves into a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • In another pan, heat the ghee and when warm, add the cumin seeds and let it splutter.
  • Then add the chopped or grated garlic and let it saute for a few minutes.
  • Next, add the sliced onions and let the onions slightly brown.
  • When the onions start to brown, add the cumin powder, turmeric powder and red chilli powder and mix well. Then add the black or pink salt and season with salt.
  • Now add the beaten yoghurt and mix well. Let the masala cook well and the ghee start to leave the sides of the pan.
  • Then add the spinach puree and let the palak cook well. When the spinach starts to bubble, add the paneer pieces and let it cook for a few more minutes.
  • Now gently sprinkle the wholewheat flour a bit by bit and let it get absorbed into the gravy. This is to thicken the gravy.
  • Lastly, sprinkle the garam masala and the lemon juice and switch off the gas. Serve hot with Indian flatbreads or jeera rice.
  • You can also add fresh cream as the last step before adding the garam masala and the lemon juice as well as a  garnish. I didn’t have cream at home and omitted this step.

 

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Recipes: Sweet Sour Potatoes

When I was in college, I used to make a potato recipe in a tamarind sauce a lot. That was a signature dish I had discovered in a magazine, most likely Women’s Era and had written it down. I did not bring that notebook with me when I moved to Singapore and now that recipe is lost.

The other day I suddenly started thinking of that recipe and turned to Google to see if I can find it somewhere in the world wide web. Unfortunately, I could not remember most of the ingredients and hence could not verify if any of the recipes were the same.

I did read a recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor which I felt was the closest to what I remembered and so adapted this recipe to my own. So here’s my version of tangy and sweet-sour potatoes.

Sweet Sour Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into long fingers with the jacket on
  • 1 lemon-sized ball of tamarind, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and pulped and make it into 2 cups of tamarind water (or if you are using tamarind paste, use 2-3 tsp of the same)
  • 2 tbsp (more or less) Jaggery (you can alternate this with brown sugar if you don’t have access to jaggery)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3-4 dried red chillies
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • In a dry pan, dry roast the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and chillies separately till they start to emit a nice aroma. Make sure you don’t burn the spices. Keep aside, cool and blend into a fine powder.
  • Heat oil in a largish pan and when the oil heats up, add the mustard seeds and let them pop. When they pop, add the asafoetida and stir for a couple of seconds. Then add in the powdered spice mix and stir for a couple of seconds.
  • Then pour in the tamarind water and jaggery and some salt and let it come to a nice rolling boil.
  • After about five minutes, when the raw smell of the tamarind goes away, add the potatoes and let them cook. Cook the potatoes till a knife pierced through one, goes in cleanly. Don’t overcook them. Check for salt at this point and add more if needed.
  • Finish off with taking the kasuri methi in the palms of your hands and crush it to release the oils and aroma and sprinkle it over the potatoes and gravy.
  • Switch off the gas and garnish with chopped coriander. Serve with rice or rotis (Indian flatbreads)
  • Recipes: Vegetable Makhanwala

    One weekend, I was wondering what to cook and neither S nor the children were being helpful. When asked what do you want to eat, they’d say “Anything”. So when I searched online, I found a couple of recipes for Butten chicken and also for Paneer Makhanwala. So I decided to play around with these recipes and came up with this Vegetable Makhanwala recipe.

    Makhanwala means with butter and true to its name, this recipe is not for the faint of heart, it needs loads of butter, ghee and oil, not to mention cholesterol inducing items like cream and dry fruits like almonds and cashew nuts. If you are making this for a special occasion, please go full steam ahead and don’t hold back.

    Vegetable Makhanwala

    Ingredients:

    • 2 cups mixed vegetables, chopped into slightly larger than bite-sized pieces (I used cauliflower, green capsicum, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, french beans and frozen corn. You can also add peas and broccoli to this mix)
    •  1cup frozen paneer, refreshed in hot water for 20 minutes to soften it
    • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped
    • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
    • 1-inch piece of ginger
    • 6-7 cloves of garlic
    • 4-5 dried red chillies
    • 4 fresh red chillies
    • 7-8 cashew nuts
    • 7-8 almonds
    • 3-4 cardamom pods
    • 3-4 cloves
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 tsp fennel seeds
    • 4 tbsp butter
    • 2 tbsp ghee
    • 2 tbsp oil
    • 2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • 1 tsp coriander powder
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1-2 tsp garam masala powder
    •  2 tsp kasuri methi
    • 200 ml cup cooking cream
    • Salt to taste
    • Coriander

    Method:

    • In a pan, heat 2 tbsp butter, 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp ghee and when the ghee and butter melts, add the cumin seeds and fennel seeds.
    • When the seeds splutter, add the garlic and let it stir for a few seconds. Then add in the ginger, fresh and dried chillies and stir for a few seconds. Next, add the onions and let it stir until it becomes translucent. Then add the almonds and cashew nuts and give it a good stir. Lastly, add the tomatoes and a tsp of salt to allow the tomatoes to start disintegrating.
    • When the tomatoes and mushy and cooked, remove from the flame, cool down and blend to a very fine paste.
    • In the same pan, heat up the remaining ghee, oil and butter and add the chopped vegetables in it. Add the dry spices – turmeric powder, chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and some salt and cover and cook till the vegetables are three quarters done.
    • When the vegetables are almost done, pour in the blended paste and add water if needed to make the gravy to the consistency you require. Check for salt and add if needed. Also, add in the paneer, kasuri methi and garam masala and let it come to a rolling boil.
    • After about 5-7 minutes at a rolling boil, reduce the flame and add in the cooking cream. Let it come to a gentle boil and switch off the fire, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with any rice or Indian flatbread.

    Notes:

    • Kasuri Methi is dried fenugreek leaves which can be omitted if you don’t have them.
    • If you don’t have access to either fresh or dried red chillies, just substitute one for the other. Kashmiri red chillies give you the best colour without the spice factor.
    • If you are not eating immediately after cooking, omit the last step until you are ready to serve the dish. This is because cooking cream may curdle when you heat it time and again. When you are ready to serve, heat it in a pan and when it comes to a gentle roll, lower the flame and add the cream and finally the coriander. You can omit the cream totally if you want, it tastes very good even without it.

    Recipes: Spinach Rice

    I love one pot meals. The chance to have a complete meal without getting many dishes and pots and pans dirty is great! The children love spinach and have been asking me to make spinach rice for a while now. So I decided to make it last week. This is slightly different from the way I usually make it, so thought to document it here.

    Spinach Rice

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup spinach, washed and chopped
    • 1 cup basmati rice
    • 4-5 pods of garlic
    • 1-1.5 inch ginger
    • 1 large or 2 medium-sized onions
    • 1 medium-sized green capsicum
    • 4-6 green chillies (depending on the size and your spice tolerance)
    • 1 bunch of coriander leaves
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 tsp coriander seeds
    • 1 tsp fennel seeds
    • 4-5 cardamom pods
    • 4-5 pieces of clove
    • 2 inch piece of cinnamon
    • 2-3 cashew nuts
    • 1 Bay leaf
    • 1 tbsp ghee
    • Salt to taste

    Method:

    • Wash the spinach thoroughly and keep aside.
    • Wash the basmati rice well, soak it in water for 20-30 minutes and then drain and keep aside.
    • In a dry skillet, dry roast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon till they are done and emit and nice aroma. Keep aside to cool.
    • Soak the cashew nuts in warm water or milk for 10 minutes to soften it up.
    • Chop the onion, green capsicum, green chillies, ginger and garlic and keep aside.
    • In a blender blend everything – the spinach, green capsicum, green chillies, coriander, onion, ginger, garlic, cashew nuts and spices to a smooth paste and keep aside.
    • Heat a pan with the ghee and when the ghee warms up, add the bay leaf and stir for a couple of seconds.
    • Then add the spinach paste and stir well. Season with salt and let it cook well, making sure it is still a vibrant green colour.
    • Take the washed and drained rice and add to this paste. Transfer to a rice cooker and cook with 3/4 cup (or as you need for your rice) of water. Once cooked, let it sit for a while before you take it out of the cooker.
    • Serve hot with some crisps and a raita of your choice.

    Notes:

    • If you are cooking in your stovetop when you add the rice to the spinach paste, let it mix for a minute, then add the water and any seasoning you want and cook covered on a low to medium flame till done. Let it sit for a while before opening the cover.
    • You can also make the paste in advance and store it in the fridge or freeze it. When you want to make the rice the next day, just add it to the rice in the rice cooker or on the stovetop and continue as above.
    • I didn’t have any coriander with me but had Green Chutney at home. So I substituted coriander with a couple of tbsps of this Chutney.

    Recipe: White Pumpkin Rasavangi

    The word Rasavangi is very evocative and exotic, isn’t it? In Marathi (or rather the Bambaiya Hindi which is spoken in Mumbai), Vangi means Brinjal or Aubergine. And Rasa in most Indian languages brings to mind a gravy. So I always thought Rasavangi is brinjal cooked in gravy. It was only recently I learnt that it is, in fact, a South Indian term and most probably used by the Brahmins. All this time, I used to call this dish a Pumpkin Sambhar. Anyway, here’s the Rasavangi I made recently.

    White Pumpkin Rasavangi

    Ingredients:

    • 1 large white pumpkin, peeled and chopped into small pieces after discarding the seeds and fibre
    • 1 lemons sized ball of tamarind, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes, then squeezed so the fibres are removed and the tamarind water separated
    • 1 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/2 cup toor dal
    • 2-3 tbsp chana dal

    To be ground into a paste:

    • 1/2 cup grated coconut
    • 6-8 dried red chillies
    • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
    • 1 tbsp chana dal
    • 2 tbsp oil

    To Temper:

    • 1 tbsp oil
    • 1 tsp mustard seeds
    • 1 tsp broken urad dal
    • 5-6 curry leaves

    Method:

    • Cook the toor and chana dal until they lose their shape. Whisk them well till it becomes a homogeneous mixture. Keep aside
    • In a pan, take 2 tbsp oil and when the oil warms, add the dried red chillies, coriander seeds and chana dal and stir until they start becoming red. Then add the coconut and keep stirring till the coconut becomes reddish brown and loses all moisture and becomes completely dry. Keep aside to cool.
    • When cool, blend to a fine powder. If your blender can’t do this, you can also add water and blend it to a fine paste.
    • In the same pan, put the chopped pumpkin and turmeric powder with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and ensure it does not burn. You can also add a bit of salt here so the pumpkin is not bland.
    • Cook the pumpkin till it becomes tender. At this point add the tamarind water and boil until the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
    • Now add the cooked dals and the ground paste and check for seasoning. When the Rasavangi starts to boil again, remove from the flame.
    • Take a smaller skillet and pour in the remaining 1 tbsp oil. When the oil heats up, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the urad dal and let it brown slightly. Add the curry leaves and switch off the flame. Pour this seasoning over the Rasavangi.
    • Serve hot as a gravy with rice or even as an accompaniment to a traditional South Indian meal. If serving as an accompaniment, make it thicker than usual. This can also be eaten with Indian flatbreads.