One of the favourites on the restaurant menus, I have never really loved this one but we do have this occasionally i.e. whenever I feel that it has been a long time since we had Spinach. For me this is the best way to have Palak (Spinach).
Funnily enough, I have never really liked the taste of this dish in any of the restaurants. The home made version is the best! Specially so when most of the restaurants, here in London are Bangladeshi converts, where it appears in the guise of Sag Poneer alongside Motor Poneer! We were once 'compelled' to order this for home delivery and what we got was a container full of Spinach leaves blanched in salty water, with some Paneer (Cottage cheese) pieces thrown here & there. Thats it! No spices. Or may be there were some traces of Garam Masala. This episode hardened my resolve to
1) Avoiding getting Indian take away/home delivery unless we completely trusted the restaurant
2) Never order Palak Paneer even if we did get a Take away!
And how do I make it at home?
- 200 gm Spinach
- 2 cups Paneer cubes
- 1 Medium sized onion, grated
- 1 medium sized tomato, pureed
- 1 tsp Garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp Ginger paste
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsps Garam Masala
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 1 tsp Red Chili powder
- 1 tblsp Oil
Blanch the spinach and allow to cool. The spinach is not to be boiled but just immersed in boiling water for 2 minutes or so and then removed and set to cool. When it is cool enough to handle, make a puree and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a pan and splutter the cumin seeds. Fry the grated onion until the raw smell goes away or rather until you stop shedding tears in the kitchen! Notice how grating the onion makes you cry even more, both while grating it & then while frying it. You may switch on the exhaust, open the windows, but you cant avoid the tears :)
The next step is to add the ginger & Garlic paste and fry for some more time (2-3 min). Then add the tomato puree and cook till the oil separates out.
Next, add the Garam Masala, Coriander powder & red chili powder and mix well. Add the Spinach puree, Paneer cubes & salt and mix.
If you want the spinach gravy to be thinner, add milk instead of water. This results in a creamy gravy without any water separating out of it. Cover and cook for 5-7 min.
Serve hot with Chapatis/ Phulka/ Naan/Rotis and forget the wannabe Punjabi food serving, so called Indian restaurants (atleast for this one item)!