Indian food and I have only recently become friends.
I am probably very much in the minority here, but I simply do not see the appeal of butter chicken, or its paneer variation.
Indian food and I have a much cosier relationship now because of two discoveries; dal is like a thick version of a lentil soup and paneer is actually nothing like un-pressed and unappealing cottage cheese.
In honour of today’s Indian celebration, Holi, I set out to make my first, real (I hope!) Indian curry. Paneer Palak is a bright green curry of spinach leaves, vibrant spices and paneer that is mellow enough to be enjoyed by all.
I know that the festival of colours is traditionally held to welcome spring. But for the rest of us on the other side of the world, I like to think that it can also say hello to autumn, where a completely different range of colours are slowly seeping into the landscape.
But location doesn’t really matter when we can celebrate Holi with all the other Fiesta Friday-loving folk over at The Novice Gardener, where Angie is this week joined by co-hosts Caroline @Caroline’s Cooking and Elaine @foodbod.
Happy Holi and Fiesta Friday #58, everyone!
Paneer Palak with Cumin Rice
- 1 long green chilli (chopped)
- 2 cm piece of ginger (chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
- 1 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 bunches English spinach (roughly chopped)
- 120ml water (divided)
- 2 tablespoons ghee (divided)
- 200g paneer (cut into 3cm cubes)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 cups of basmati rice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 ½ cups water
- 1 large onion (finely chopped)
- 3 tomatoes (chopped)
- 125 ml pouring cream
- Process chilli, ginger, garlic, coriander, garam masala, cumin, half the spinach and half the water (60ml) in a food processor to a rough paste; add more water to loosen if necessary.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a large, deep frying pan over high heat. Add paneer and cook, turning occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel covered plate to drain. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee in the same pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes or until softened. Add the spinach paste and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, cream, the remainder 60ml of water and the paneer, and cook for 3 minutes or until the tomatoes are starting to soften. Add remaining bunch of spinach and cook for 3 minutes or until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until fragrant. Add the rice and salt and stir to coat. Add the water, stir briefly, cover with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the rice for 15 to 20 minutes* and the water has been absorbed. Cover the saucepan with a tea towel, put the lid back on and allow to stand for five minutes. Serve the cumin rice topped with paneer palak.
* Rice should not be cooked for longer than 20 minutes – any longer it will start to turn gluggy.
Recipe by adapted from SBS Food.