Spinach brings to my mind memories of Popeye the Sailor and his love for his damsel-in-distress Olive Oyl. It was the one of the few things that I didn’t complain about as a child who hated her greens. And, it was disguised as spinach soup and palak paneer.
This one, I strongly believe, rivals the store-bought ready-to-eat version simply because you know just how fresh the spinach is, and the exact amounts of preservatives going into the dish (none!).
This one’s great to cook for yourself or even when you’ve got company over, such as Sunday brunch for example. Who doesn’t want to show off some skills, after all?
Ingredients (Serves 2)
500 grams paneer, cut into bite sized cubes
2 tbsp oil
1 cup water
1 bunch spinach (roughly 250 grams)
3 – 4 whole garlic cloves
1/2 inch ginger, crushed and chopped
3 – 4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
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1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp kashmiri mirch (chilly powder – kashmiri chilly powder variety is mild in heat but rich in colour)
2 tsp coriander powder
1 bay leaf
1 inch stick of cinnamon bark
salt to taste
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns or 1 tsp pepper powder
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- Wash the spinach and boil it with water, peppercorns (if using whole peppercorns), whole garlic cloves and salt until the spinach wilt completely.
- Using the blender, grind the spinach with the water until smooth. Set aside to cool.
- While the spinach cooks, chop up all the other ingredients.
- Heat oil in the kadhai on medium heat and add the cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf.
- Once the cloves stop popping, add the onions, garlic and ginger and fry until the onions turn golden brown.
- Add the turmeric, chilly powder, pepper powder (if not using the peppercorns) and coriander powder and fry until the mixture comes together.
- Add the tomatoes and cook down until the mixture turns pulpy. (At this stage, turn the heat off and transfer the masala to the blender to grind all the ingredients down to a smooth paste – this step is entirely optional, but results in a smoother curry. Pour the paste back into the kadhai and heat on a medium flame.)
- Add the paneer and mix until all the pieces are coated in the puree.
- Pour in the spinach puree, add salt to taste and stir until all the flavours come together. Serve hot with chapathis.
If the tomato paste is too thick, add water one tablespoon at a time to loosen the mixture.
Feel free to skip the pureeing of the tomato mixture if you’re cooking for yourself! But, it does result in a smoother consistency.
For a touch of elegance, garnish with a dollop of cream and swirl it into the curry for presentation.
If your curry is too runny, puree a few cashew nuts with a teaspoon of water and add it to the curry as a thickener and flavour enhancer.