Every now and then when I sense there hasn’t been enough greens in my diet I get a serious craving for them. Palak Paneer, one of my favorite curries made with spinach and homemade cottage cheese, is the perfect fix.
I have done several posts on the procedure of making paneer and a few about spinach curry, so apologies for the repetition. Paneer commonly relies on spices and ingredients of the dishes in which it is used to impart flavor to the mild tasting cheese. Lately I have taken to infusing flavors during the cheese making process.
Firstly, I add salt to the milk as it is slowly brought to a boil and sweeten it with turbinado sugar to offset the acidity of the lemon juice and/or vinegar which will be added to curdle the milk.
Secondly, I add herbs and/or spices to the milk.
I made paneer a couple weeks ago flavored with kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) using a sachet improvised from a coffee filter to infuse the herb. On this occasion I put the dried fenugreek leaves and curry leaves into a large tea ball type infuser. (The infuser wasn’t the best idea because later it was very difficult to clean the congealed milk from the fine mesh). This post contains photos from both events.
After salting, slightly sweetening and infusing the milk with herbs I heated it to a boil. I stirred the boiled milk into a swirl, and without any more stirring drizzled lemon juice and vinegar into the swirling milk.The resulting curds were scooped into a cheese cloth lined mold/press.
The excess cheese cloth was folded over the curds and the whey drained away.
After pressing and draining for about an hour the cheese was refrigerated until needed.
The ingredients for making the palak paneer (in no particular order) were:
- cumin seeds
- ginger and curry leaf pastes
- black salt
- garam masala
- cumin powder
- red chili powder
- coriander powder
- green chilis
- lemon juice
- coconut oil
- kosher salt
No doubt the order in which I added ingredients differs from traditional methods.
I sautéed cumin seeds, green chilis, ginger paste and curry leaf paste in coconut oil, then added onions, garlic and kosher salt.
When the onions were soft and translucent I added red chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder and cumin powder.
After a couple more minutes I added chopped tomato.
When the tomatoes were soft I added black salt and nutmeg, then let it cool a bit before blending to a medium coarse purée and returning it to the pan.
Spinach leaves were blanched in boiling water for a couple minutes then drained and cooled with a cold water bath. It was drained again before being blended to a purée.
The spinach purée was mixed in with the other puréed ingredients.
Cilantro which had been blended with a little lemon juice and cubed paneer were also mixed in.
Lastly, half and half was added to the curry and it was slowly heated at low temperature.
The palak paneer was served with a dollop of Greek yogurt and pita flat bread.