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  • Palak Paneer
    Spiced Spinach and Cheese

    TOOLS: You’ll need a 6-quart / 6-L sauté pan and an immersion (stick) blender, food processor, or blender.
    VEGANIZE IT! Replace the ghee with the vegetable oil, the dairy cream with Cashew Cream or soy, almond, or coconut milk. Replace the Paneer with Baked Tofu.
    NOTE: If using canned tomatoes, cut the water in half.

    This is a mainstay on the Punjabi dinner table. No matter the occasion, there is always a place for deliciously spiced spinach and homemade cheese. I’ve been subbing the paneer with baked tofu lately without missing a beat. Try it either way.

    • 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
    • ½ teaspoon hing (asafetida)
    • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1 large yellow or red onion, roughly chopped
    • 2 teaspoons plus 1 pinch salt, divided
    • 1 (3-inch / 8-cm) piece ginger, peeled and diced small
    • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
    • 2 teaspoons Garam Masala
    • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 2 large tomatoes, roughly diced
    • 1 cup /240 mL water, divided
    • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 heaping tablespoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), lightly hand crushed to release flavor
    • 2–5 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and chopped
    • 12 packed cups /550 g fresh spinach, washed
    • ½–1 cup /120–240 mL cream or half & half
    • 2 heaping cups /620 g diced Paneer, fresh or pan-fried
    • Brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan, for serving
    1. In a 6-quart / 6-L sauté pan over medium–high heat, warm the ghee. Add the hing, cumin seeds, and turmeric and cook for 40 seconds, until the cumin seeds sizzle and turn reddish-brown. Stir well to ensure the seeds are coated with oil and to avoid burning and sticking.
    2. Add the onion and the pinch of salt to the sauté pan and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is slightly browned. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
    3. Add the Garam Masala, coriander, and red chile powder to the sauté pan and cook for 40 seconds, watching carefully to ensure the spices do not burn.
    4. Add the tomatoes and ½ cup /60 mL of the water to the sauté pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add the remaining ½ cup / 60 mL of water, the tomato paste, the kasoori methi, the fresh chiles, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, until blended.
    5. Slowly add the spinach to the sauté pan, allowing it to wilt down so the pan will be able to accommodate all the spinach. Stir occasionally and cook, uncovered, for 8 minutes, until the spinach cooks down completely. Remove from the heat and set the mixture aside to cool for 2 to 3 minutes.
    6. Using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender, pulse the mixture until all the ingredients have broken down and blended together. Here, you should use your best judgment. If you like it smooth, process it more. If you like more texture, just pulse it a bit.
    7. Return the mixture to the sauté pan over medium heat and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, until all the ingredients, including the spices, come together. Add the cream and Paneer and cook for 2 minutes, until warmed through. If using home-made paneer, be careful not to cook it too much because the cubes will break down. You want it to stay cubed when you serve it. Stir gently until combined. Remove from the heat.
    8. Serve immediately with the brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

© 2016 Alta Editions LLC.