Thursday, February 23, 2012

Palak Paneer

OK, so I realize that picture isn't all that appealing. I promise you, though, that this is one delicious dish. I also had a hard time calculating the cost because the difference in price between buying a lot of this stuff at somewhere like Safeway and an Indian grocery store is pretty staggering. I'm basing the amounts I came up with somewhere between what I paid and what lists for prices on spices and basmati rice. And this isn't really what I'd call a cheap meal by my standards, but it's significantly cheaper than in a restaurant and it's so damn good you should make it anyway. So...

Cost for this recipe: $11.78 Cost per serving: About $2.89

This is a recipe I've used a lot but I recently decided to experiment with what I thought might be missing. I think those things might have been asafotida and fenugreek. So you can really leave those out and it'll be fine, but I think they added a certain ... Indian-ness.


vegetable oil or ghee
1 large onion, chopped
2 cardamom seeds
1 stick of cinnamon
2-3 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1 tsp minced garlic 
1 tsp grated ginger
1 small tomato, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb fresh spinach, chopped*
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp fenugreek leaves
1/2 tsp asafotida
1 cup cream (or half-and-half works)
1 tbsp tomato paste
fresh cilantro leaves
paneer ( about 1/3 of a block, cut into small cubes)


Heat oil or ghee in a saucepan and lightly brown the onion. Add 2 or 3 bay leaves 
cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cloves, ginger, garlic, sliced tomato and black pepper and saute for about a minute. 

Add spinach and cook until it turns dark green and reduces in volume.

Add salt, turmeric, coriander,  garam masala, fenugreek and asafotida (the asafotida technically needs to be tempered in oil over heat but rather than get out a new pan, I just cleared a side of the large pan and did it right there and then mixed it in. I think next time I might try tempering all the spices together in a separate pan).

Add cream, tomato paste, chopped cilantro and cubed paneer. Cook for another couple of minutes over high heat. 

Serve over rice.

*Don't bother spending extra money on baby spinach. It cooks down so much you can use the coarse, cheaper spinach and it'll be just fine. Also, to get the texture that palak paneer has in most restaurants, you can run the spinach through the food processor before you cook it. Mine is just so tiny it's never worth the effort.

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