Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A Meal to Remember

Yesterday's dinner was rather special. It was the first time that I  had cooked with so many ingredients freshly harvested from the garden. The star attraction of the meal was a delectable Palak Paneer.

Below are pictures of my garden’s contribution to the palak paneer.
Fresh, Crisp Spinach
Homegrown Tomatoes: Bursting with Flavor, they’re Hard to Beat
Aromatic Coriander Seeds: Way Better than the Shop-bought Ones
I devised a no-frills recipe that many might find bland. Yet it seems to me, the best way to taste both palak and paneer (cottage cheese). When the ingredients are the finest, you don’t need to mask or alter their taste with too many condiments. 

Here’s my Absolutely Basic Palak Paneer Recipe for the Minimalist.
  1. Fresh Homemade Paneer cubed – approx. 750 gms. (I made paneer from  1 ½ litres  of milk, curdled with the juice of one large lemon and a tbsp of cider vinegar. Shop-bought paneer will not be as soft and spongy.)
  2. Spinach – a big bunch or 3 small bunches
  3. Onion - 1
  4. Tomatoes – 5-6
  5. Turmeric (Haldi) – ¼ tsp
  6. Coriander seeds (Dhania seeds) – 2 tsp
  7. Cumin seeds (Jeera) – 1 tsp
  8. Salt to taste and oil for frying
If you wish, you could complicate the recipe by using one or more of the following, as per taste: butter/ghee, green chillies, garam masala powder, cloves, bay leaf, pepper and cinnamon.
  1. Chop the onion and sauté in a little oil.
  2. Chop tomatoes. Add them to the onions and sauté them as well.
  3. Separately, toast the coriander and cumin seeds gently. Dry grind them to a coarse powder and add it to the sautéed tomatoes and onion. Add the turmeric too. (I add the spices in at this stage as they get cooked, without getting burnt.)
  4. Add in the shredded spinach. Fresh spinach will release very little water, so you can add the paneer almost immediately thereafter. (Most people would fry the paneer cubes, but I did away with this step.) Cook till the spinach is wilted.
  5. Add salt to taste.
And lo, your palak paneer is ready.

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