I didn’t mention it before, but last week Sebastian cooked a delicious Indian feast for my birthday. Paneer masala, naan bread and even (admittedly not Indian) chocolate amoretto fruit fondue.
The only place to buy Paneer in Bonn is through one of the Indian grocery stores. The catch is that you have to request it well in advance as it’s made to order. To make my birthday dinner, Sebastian ordered about 600 grams of paneer. That’s 1.3 pounds of Indian cheese.
Needless to say, we had left-overs.
After finding fresh spinach in the grocery store today (a real rarity,) I decided to use the left-over paneer to make palak paneer.
I’ve made palak paneer several times before, but this was certainly the winning combination.
I accredit my success to ghee.
Ghee is merely clarified butter, a very simple thing to make at home. All you need is a saucepan, butter, heat and a strainer.
To make ghee, simply place butter in a saucepan and cook it over very low heat for about 20 minutes. The butter will begin to separate. Once filtered trough a cheesecloth or strainer, the clarified butter, or ghee is left.
With this ghee, I was able to achieve that “missing Indian taste.”
Ingredients are all estimates
- 200 grams butter clarified to make ghee
- 300 grams paneer
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped to make about 1.5 Tbsp.
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1-2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. Garam Masala
- 1/4 tsp. coriander powder
- 1/4 tsp. curry powder
- 2 small, dried red chilies
- 1 pinch fenugreek seeds
- 1 cardamom pod, seeds removed
- 1/2 tsp. salt plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 1 large bag fresh spinach
- Cut or crumble the paneer into small pieces and fry in 1/3 of the ghee until the cheese is golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Add another 1/3 of the ghee to a large non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add the coriander seeds and garlic and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
- Using a mortar and pestle, crush together the fenugreek and cardamom seeds. Add the crushed seeds, garam masala, cumin, curry powder, chilies, coriander tomatoes and chopped onions to the mixture.
- Continue cooking the sauce over low heat for about 1 hour, adding water as necessary to maintain a saucy consistency.
- Pour in the half and half and stir well to combine. Add the fresh spinach and cook until the greens are wilted. Season with salt and add the remaining 1/3 ghee, if desired.
- In a food processor, pulse the sauce. I like my palak paneer to have small chunks of veggies but an overall creamy texture. Return the sauce to the pan and add the prepared paneer. Heat through and serve with fresh coriander and naan bread.
I love Indian!