I call this dish Palak Paneer from UK because I saw this recipe on a show on UKTV Food. I am always intrigued when English chefs cook Indian food on TV. All the ingredients seems so much more exotic when they talk about it. Everyday items from an Indian Kitchen like curry leaves, cumin powder, garam masala, fresh coriander and ginger-garlic paste which are used by me without giving them a second thought appear so much more glamorous on TV.
Terms like beautiful and gorgeous are used very frequently to describe very commonly used spices,but I must say they do make you see stuff in your own kitchen from a different perspective. And I like that. sometimes while cooking something mundane I pretend I am on a TV show and say things like "Now lets put some of this gorgeous yellow turmeric powder in our curry" or "I am going to chop some of this beautiful fresh green coriander and garnish my lovely crunchy salad" It really makes me laugh while cooking and takes away some of the boredom out of everyday cooking .
I am sure by now all of you are thinking "This Anupama has really lost it this time" But you know what even as a kid of 12 or 13 I used to browse through Tarla Dalal's recipe books while eating something very ordinary at home like rice and dal or something similar and pretend that I was eating the dish that was reading about.
Before I saw this recipe on TV I always made Palak Paneer in a slightly different way. I never used tomato in it and I admit I always felt that my dish always lacked something that I could not really put my finger on. But I loved it this time.
So these are the things I used:
2 bunches of baby spinach leaves finely chopped , 1.5 onions finely chopped, 1 large tomato finely chopped, 4 cloves garlic crushed, 1/2 inch piece of ginger, 1.5 tspn coriander powder, 1.5 tspn cumin powder, 1/2tspn garam masala, 1 green chilly chopped, 1/2 cup milk, 2 cups paneer cubed, salt to taste, 3 tblspns oil
And this is what I did:
1. Heat the oil and saute the ginger , garlic and chilly for few seconds,
2. Add the chopped onions and fry these for a minute,
3. Next add the chopped tomato and the spice powders and cook until the raw smell of tomato disappears. Add small quantities of water so the masala does not stick to the bottom of the pan,
4. Now add the spinach, lower the heat to medium and slow cook the spinach until completely cooked,
5. Next add the milk. You can use cream here but milk also gives a great creamy flavour without all the unnecessary calories,
6.Cook further for 2 to 3 minutes until the whole dish gets a creamy texture, now add salt, and check the seasoning
7. At the final stage add the cubed paneer (I did not fry the paneer, but while I was cooking the spinach I immersed the entire block of paneer in warm water. This really softens the paneer beautifully) and cook on a low heat for just one min and switch of the gas.
Palak paneer never tasted so good to me . So do give it a try.