Alright! so yesterday was my birthday.. Is it bad if I'm not all excited and jumping around? Gone are the days when it was impossible to understand that why can not your birthday be a national holiday and you used to start the countdown from a month before. I guess after celebrating a certain number of birthdays you sort of wish if you could just push the date a little further, that's exactly the age I've reached.. Boohoo!
Anyways this one was definitely a special one for me because this was my first birthday as a mommy and 'A' made every effort for me to have as much fun and relax as much as I can. He got me some gorgeous roses and my favorite cake and cooked a nice dinner for the three of us and guess what I got as a birthday gift??
A Kitchenaid!! That made my day right there.
For dinner he exceeded all my expectations. He made my favorite Palak Paneer with butter naan, rice pulav and dahi kachumbar/ mixed vegetable raita. How better can a birthday get? Spending it with the most gorgeous people in your life and having the most gorgeous dinner.
Although I did not make this palak paneer myself but still I'm taking the liberty of sharing 'A's' recipe here (I did ask his permission BTW).
Palak Paneer one of my all time favorite Indian foods, not only because it tastes out of the world but also because its one of those dishes which is rich but you still you don't feel guilty eating it. Palak which is hindi name for spinach doesn't need any introduction and Paneer is fresh Indian cheese which rich in protein.
If you don't find paneer due to any reason Queso blanco or Queso fresco is the closest thing you can find although unlike Paneer they are lightly salted. Cottage cheese is also another good alternative. BUt I'm sure you can find paneer easily if you know of any Indian food market.
Palak or spinach gives the dish a beautiful green color and paneer and cream gives it just the right amount of richness needed for a perfect Indian curry and when you will taste it you will know exactly what I'm talking about.
Here's the ingredients and the method how A made it.
1 pound fresh green spinach
8 oz packet of paneer cut into cubes
1 cup red chopped onion
1 cup tomato pureed
3-4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 inch ginger
2-3 thai green chili
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 cup heavy cream or 2 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
3 tbsp olive oil/cooking oil
Boil spinach in a big pot adding fennel seeds and cloves to it. Let it cool and then blend it in a blender. Save the water in which you boiled your spinach.
Grind onion, ginger, garlic and thai chili making a thick paste.
Heat oil in a medium sized pot and add the ground paste of onion, garlic and the other ingredients.
Cook everything until the paste starts changing color from light pink to darker pink and then slowly towards golden. Then add salt.
Stir for a minute and you'll see onion loosing some oil that's when you have to add coriander powder & curry powder.
Mix it all together and add pureed tomato.
Cook everything until the paste is thicker and all the liquid from the tomato is cooked. Then you have to add the pureed mixture of spinach, fennel seeds and cloves. Fennel seeds and cloves here are the secret ingredients that I add to my spinach. This gets rid of the spinachy (if there's any word like that) smell of the greens.
Don't forget to turn the heat to lowest because as soon as spinach hits the hot pot it would start bubbling and jumping. So continuously stir it on low heat for a minute or two and then cover it with a lid to let it cook. If you think the gravy is too thick for you add a ladle or two of the saved boiled water from the spinach and then cover it.
In a separate sauce pan boil salted water, turn off the heat and then add the paneer cubes. Let it stay in hot water for 2-3 mintes while your curry is being cooked. This helps drain all the excess fat from the cheese making it softer.
Then add cream or sour cream whatever you are using to the spinach curry. Mix well.
Drain our paneer cubes from the salt water and add it to the gravy.
Give it one quick boil and your Palak Paneer is ready. We ate it with some char grilled butter naan.