Spinach and paneer curry

My organisation skills are apparently not as honed as I would like them to be: they have, unfortunately, failed me over the past weekend, during which I did a lot of reading, cooking and gardening and spent absolutely no time online! It was nice to get a small break from it all, but I am glad to be back home, where I can cook and blog freely.

Oh, and before I forget, I hope you all had a very happy Easter / Passover / bank holiday weekend!

To apologise for the lull on The Healthy Frenchie these past few days, here’s a newly discovered recipe which I have been raring to share with you guys: a lovely Punjabi spinach and cheese recipe called Palak Paneer. Or, at least, my version of it, minus some cream and green chillies.

I have been so eager to cook this since I tasted it in an Indian restaurant recently: I mean, what’s not to love? It’s spinach, spices and paneer cheese! And with just a few ingredients, how hard can it be?

How hard can it be? Such a simple question and yet so charged with the possibility of failure. Now, this is where cooking gets a little more complicated for me: how do you do when you don’t know, when you lack the necessary experience? Indian cuisine is delicious, there’s no denying it, but the difficulty in cooking Indian food, for me, lies in the fact that the dishes they cook with confidence and ingredients they use daily are, in fact, foreign to me. How do you dose the spices? How can you be sure you’re doing it right? Is it in the smells, in having watched your grandmother cook this for you a million times growing up, or is it just in the confidence you have as a cook (amateurs and professionals alike)?

Anyway, I could continue to debate this point forever, and remain afraid to try new things or I could just, well, cook. So that’s what I did. No silly excuses or fears. Just do it, as Nike would say. And it turned out pretty damn good. The paneer was succulent and wonderfully filling and the spinach and onions flavourful. I’ll let you test it out for yourselves!

Serves 2, with rice – Serves 1 by itself (with a little less cheese)

Ingredients:

125g spinach

1/2 medium to large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 1-inch chunk of ginger

1 small to medium tomato, chopped, or 1/3 cup chopped tomatoes

125g paneer cheese

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

1/8 tsp turmeric powder

1/4 tsp red chilli powder or cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp garam masala

Coconut oil

1. Wash spinach in cold water. In a pot, boil some water, add some salt and blanch spinach for two to three minutes. Drain the spinach, reserving the water in a bowl.

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2. Immediately place the spinach for two minutes in a bowl of cold water with ice to preserve the deep green colour of the spinach. Drain water and set spinach aside in a bowl.

3. Add 1 finely chopped clove of garlic and some finely chopped ginger to the spinach and blend, either with a hand blender or a full-size blender. Keep spinach aside for now.

4. In a pan, heat some coconut oil. When hot, add the cumin seeds. After a few minutes, add the onions and fry until golden. Add 1 to two cloves of finely chopped garlic and sauté until the smell of raw garlic lessens.

5. Add the chopped tomato to the mix and cook until it softens. When it does, add turmeric and red chilli powder or cayenne pepper. Stir well.

6. Stir in the blended spinach and add half a cup of water. Let simmer over low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until the spinach is fully cooked.

7. At this juncture, you can stir in the garam masala. Make sure to stir it in well before you stir in the paneer cheese, cut into cubes.

8. Cook paneer for 1-2 minutes, then take off the heat. Serve with rice, naan bread or eat by itself.

9. Enjoy! I know I did 😉

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