Spinach with Cottage Cheese/ Paalak Paneer
Palak Paneer, a quintessential paneer dish in every Indian restaurant today! This has to be made atleast once a week for my husband:) at home, plus he places an order for the same thing every time he visits an Indian eatery. I dont generally fry the paneer, again for health reasons... and I use the Chinese Spinach available in the stores (not the round spinach) and like to add a couple of Kai lian leaves to it, for the added flavour it gives:)
Kai Lian is a leafy vegetable with thick stem used widely in Chinese cuisine.
This is the recipe I follow to make Paalak Paneer:
Paneer/Cottage Cheese - 200 gms
Spinach leaves (preferably with no stem or just a few inches of stem retained) - 1 medium bunch
Kai Lian Leaves (optional)- a handful
Onion - 2 medium
Ginger - 1 tsp, chopped fine
Garlic - 3/4 tsp, chopped fine
Green chillies - 1 (or according to taste. I would use 2 of them as we prefer a bit of a spiciness to it)
Tomatoes - 2 big
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Kasoori Methi (Dried Fenugreek leaves which are available at any Indian Grocer)- 1 tsp
Thick cream - 1 tbsp
Take a bundle of spinach leaves, discard the thick part of the stem and wash them well. Also take a handful of kai lian leaves. Cut them roughly, and put them in a pan and cook without covering with a lid. This is to let the volatile acids escape and the spinach not to lose its green colour. You would not need to add water, because the leaves would leave the water that it has been washed in. If necessary just sprinkle some water. After cooking, cool them, uncovered, and put them into a blender along with the green chillies and blend them into a paste. Keep it uncovered again to preserve the green colour. Take the onions and blend it in the mixer along with ginger and garlic. Take the tomatoes and blend them also into a paste. Heat oil, add cumin seeds to it. Once they start to turn colour, add the onion paste and fry till it turns light brown.Then add the tomato paste to it. Fry till the oil separates. Add 1/2 tsp of coriander powder. Add the spinach paste. Mix well. Add 1 tsp of kasoori methi to it. Add salt and 1/2 tsp of garam masala. Add the cottage cheese and mix. Lastly add the cream. Serve hot with chappathis/naan.
You can fry the cottage cheese if you wish before adding them to the gravy.