My crystal ball confirms that the ever popular dish, palak paneer (spinach and Indian cheese) will eternally remain the elite veggie choice on Indian restaurant menus. Nobody can resist that luscious texture of pureed spinach combined with supple, dense and addictive paneer. Oh that reminds me, I mustn’t forget to visit the doctor for my next round of paneer detox drugs. I’ve been in paneer rehab for a while now, having gone cold turkey/paneer (whichever you prefer) a few months ago. Remission is goin’ baaadly. Have you noticed?
Let me introduce you to the six-step programme for overcoming paneer related dependence:*
• Admitting that one cannot control one’s addiction or compulsion (to paneer)
• Recognizing a greater power that can give strength (it cannot be paneer)
• Examining past paneer-related errors with the help of a sponsor (a.k.a. A paneer hater- This can be quite difficult because nobody hates paneer)
• Making amends for these cheesy errors
• Learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior (denial of the existence of paneer)
• Helping others that suffer from the same delicious addictions or compulsions
And so it seems that I failed on all fronts. It would be wrong for me to blame those around me for being negligent towards my delicate disposition by enticing me with cheesy treats. But that’s what I’m going to do. I was tricked and mislead into believing that a slow withdrawal within my paneer remission was a good idea. Thus, resulting in my complete failure to return to normality.
You may be wondering whether there is any truth in what has been written above.
There are two ways to be fooled: One is to believe what isn’t so; the other is to refuse to believe what is so. –Soren Kierkegaard
I really hope you enjoy the palak paneer recipe. If you don’t like paneer:
1. You may need some minor medical help.
2. Just don’t make palak paneer.
Just remember not to be beguiled by any paneer-associated mind games, audio wizardry or optical illusions that could potentially alter your decision to abstain from cooking paneer.
Luscious Palak Paneer
1 cup paneer (or tofu for vegans), lightly grilled
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp ginger, minced
3 hot green chillies, minced (more or less if you prefer)
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
9-10 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup water
1 medium onion, minced
2 tbsp sunflower oil
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp cardamom powder
¼ tsp fennel powder
2 tbsp single cream (optional)
Salt to taste
1 tiny pinch of baking powder
1. Blanch the spinach in hot water with a tiny pinch of baking powder (which keeps it beautifully green!) and drain when wilted. Place in a blender and puree with a cup of water. Set the puree aside.
2. In a large pan heat the oil and add the onions, garlic, ginger, chillies and tomatoes. Cook for around 5 minutes on a high heat stirring constantly. Do not let it burn.
3. Add the spinach puree, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, fennel powder, cinnamon powder, cardamom powder and salt to taste. Simmer on a medium heat until the oil separates from the spinach mixture.
4. Add the paneer and single cream if you wish and remove from the heat.
5. Serve with naan, rice, paratha or if you can’t wait, a spoon.
*Adapted from what Wikipedia labels AA Rehabilitation Programme