Friday, 30 March 2012

Palak/Saag Paneer - Curried Spinach with Indian Cottage Cheese

The weather is getting warmer. There is an occasional bird chirping and shrill sounds of squirrels on the trees. So now it's bye bye to the bulky blankets and woolies which have been stashed away and will see sight next winter. All this sudden warmth and chirpiness coaxes me to brighten my cooking!

So, today's recipe is adapted from the world famous Punjabi cuisine and this will surely brighten your day. Rich in flavours this cuisine is a delight. Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Chole-Batura, Dal Makhani, Kebabs, Makki Di Roti and Sarson Ka Saag to name a few are the popular ones. Milk and milk products are an important part of their cuisine and Palak Paneer is no exception. I love this recipe especially for it's simplicity, unlike most other paneer recipes.

Paneer smothered in a thick but fresh leafy gravy is now a household name. The dash of spices smoothly blends with the saag to make an aromatic dish and yet flavours subtle enough to gently tease your palate. Paired with rice or rotis, they are a great party treat.

This was my first attempt at making my all time favourite Indian dish. I love the great combination of the spinach and the spices. The recipe is rather simple and we loved it. And I strongly believe that when Indian food is cooked properly it is the healthiest of cuisines in the world. I like spices but I also like to let flavours of each vegetable take the main role in the dish. So you can see here that the spices and aromatics have taken a step back not taking away the attention from the spinach. Though the spices are limited here, but it still has a strong aroma of all the Indian flavours.

So, as I sit here basking in the warm Bangalore sun, I hope you will enjoy this paneer dish with the dash of fresh colours.


Paneer - 200 gms
Spinach/Palak - 2 large bunches
Big Onion (finely chopped) - 2 (medium)
Tomatoes (finely chopped) - 2 (small)
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Garlic (finely chopped) – 6 to 7 cloves
Ginger (finely chopped) - 1 small piece
Green chillies - 2 to 3 (adjust as per spice tolerance)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Cracked pepper - 1/4 tsp
Fresh Cream - 4 tbsp (optional)
Salt - to taste
Ghee/Clarified Butter or Oil


Remove stems and wash the spinach thoroughly under running water. Blanch in salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and toss into chilled or cold water. (this helps to stop the cooking process and retain the fresh colour of the green leaves) Squeeze out the excess water and keep aside. Roughly chop the green chillies. Blend the spinach along with green chillies to a smooth consistency. Keep this mixture aside.

Dice paneer into 1 inch cubes. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and shallow fry the paneer cubes till they start turning slight golden brown. Toss the fried paneer cubes into cold water. After a few minutes, drain and keep aside. (this process removes excess oil and helps the paneer to remain soft)

Heat ghee in a pan and splutter cumin seeds. Add the finely chopped onions and saut'e till it turns golden brown. Toss in the chopped garlic, ginger and coriander powder and fry tell raw smell disappears. To this, add the chopped tomatoes and salt and stir till it turns soft and oil floats. Pour in the spinach puree and combine well. Add cracked pepper and check for salt at this stage. Add a little water if necessary and when the gravy comes to a boil, throw in the paneer cubes and stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes on low heat. Finally, add fresh cream and a small blop of butter on top of the curry before serving.

Serve hot with rotis, chapathis, pulav or just simple plain rice.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Awesome Aubergine - Sautéed Aubergine in Tamarind Paste

Happy Wednesday peeps!!!

Apologies for having been missing for a loooong time here.... Wait! No, I am not sorry! :) I have just been having a ton of spontaneous fun this past few weeks to have much spare time.

So what have I been upto? Awesome fun at my cousin's engagement, fun and happy dinners and get togethers with family filled with much laughter and happiness. And now back to a quiet week with my hubby, my best friend. :) There... my excuse is all laid out... You do agree with me right!? Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! :D

I know many of us think that Indian cooking can be time consuming, difficult and such. And yes, I agree. But the key to any kind of cooking, is to create your own shortcuts and make yummy food, even if it means making use of pardonable cheap tricks! However, when I moved away from home and took on my life on my own, I found cooking other types of cuisine was simpler, easier, quicker and just different.

Should I tell you a little secret? When I left home, my mum was petrified that I might starve to death. I could not cook, you see. That is the honest truth. I was rather spoilt at home and never did much. I never took a keen interest in cooking. (even after repeated attempts by my mum to train me) I was more interested in work and doing stuff with my friends. And when I left home after marriage, my mom was tensed about what I would cook for my poor hubby. And yes, I did take time but hey mom, look at me now! No seriously, my mum is totally amazed that that same girl cooks, blogs about food and photographs food. How wild is that?

Anyway, coming back to today's recipe, today's dish is "simplicity at it's best" personified! A simple Indian dish, I have made this before but didn't get enough time to take pictures and blog about it. This is Amma's (my hubby's mum) recipe and as is always with her recipes, this is one heck of an easy recipe too! :) I figured this would be a perfect dish this lent season. With Easter coming up, all I can think of is loads and loads of yummy and sumptuous goodies laid out on the table. But to savour all these yum delicacies, we definitely need a light stomach and thus thought some light veggie delights would do the trick. Like I said, I have tried out this recipe before and I must tell you how much we loved it and I would recommend this to anyone I know.

So I'll leave you with this super simple and abundantly flavourful dish that is perfect as a side for rotis/chapathis or plain rice. Makes an elegant dish for this lent season. The flavour comes from the tangy tamarind juice or paste which leaves your tastebuds tingling and wanting more. Enjoy.


Aubergine/Eggplant (green) - 6 to 8
Big Onion (finely sliced) - 2 (big)
Tomato (diced) - 2 (big)
Tamarind (soaked in water) - size of a small lemon
Red Chilli powder - 1 to 2 tsp (adjust as per spice tolerance)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves (finely chopped)
Jaggery/Gud (powdered) - 1/2 to 1 tsp (adjust as per taste) [refer notes]
Salt - to taste


Slice each aubergine into 4 and then dice it into medium sized chunks. Keep aside. Once tamarind has soaked for a few hours in water, squeeze out the essence, strain and keep the juice or paste aside.

Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the diced aubergines for a few minutes. Fry till the aubergines wilt a little or is soft and cooked till 1/4 done. (refer notes) Once done, remove from pan and keep aside.

Into the same pan, add some more oil  and add finely sliced onions and saut'e until it turns translucent and has reduced. Into this add the shallow fried aubergine pieces and combine well. Now add the diced tomatoes along with salt and mix well. Add a little water into the pan and cover and cook till tomato turns soft and oil floats. (approx. 5 minutes) Now throw in the chilli and turmeric powders and toss well. Add more water and continue to cover and cook on low heat till the aubergine is cooked through. Once the aubergine is cooked well, remove the lid and add the tamarind juice or paste into it and combine well. (add tamarind paste/juice little by little and check for sourness to get the right balance of flavours) Cook without lid till the gravy has reduced and has a semi-thick consistency. Add powdered jaggery at this time and mix well. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.


1. In case, you do not have jaggery available in your pantry, don't panic, you can always sugar.

2. Frying the aubergines helps add to the texture of the dish. You can avoid this step if needed.

Source: Amma
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