Monday, June 20, 2011

malai paalak paneer ...

It's no ordinary paalak paneer so don't be disillusioned by the name . It is a malai (fresh cream) paneer paalak where the paneer plays the protagonist adorned with malai . Paalak remains in the background , giving subtle hints of a greeny freshness infused with garlic .

Sinful is the word . Paalak ( spinach) is not just for cosmetic purpose in this silken stir fry and it will be great of you get some baby spinach or the very tender variety of spinach ...leaves only. The garlic infused spinach has it's own charm , a mild sweetness brought by the sauteed onions. And there is just enough heat brought in by chopped green chillies and some red chilly flakes thrown in .

Fresh paneer has it's own charm and i would suggest using as fresh as you can . If using the packaged paneer , it better to let it boil submerged in water first and then use for this curry .

(for 3-4 servings depending on weather it is served as a main or side dish)
paneer cubed 200 gm
baby spinach or tender spinach leaves 2 cups (i used fresh from my garden)
sliced onions 1 cup
finely chopped garlic 2 tsp
chopped green chillies 1 tsp
red chilly flakes 1 tsp
freshly grated nutmeg 1/5 tsp
ghee or butter 1 tbsp
whole cumin seeds 1 tsp
freshly milled peppercorns 1 tsp
salt to taste
fresh cream 2 tbsp


There is no paste to be made and no extensive peeling chopping done , so the dish gets ready within 15 minutes once the ingredients are ready .

Heat ghee or butter in a pan and thrown in the cumin seeds first and then the garlic . Let the garlic brown and then add the sliced onions and green chillies.
Add salt and freshly milled pepper and saute the onions just enough to make them sweat.

Add the paneer and roughly chopped spinach , mix well to coat and let the spinach wilt . Add red chilly powder and keep stirring to let the flavors seep in . Keep the flame low after adding paneer as it may stick to the base .

Add the cream and grated nutmeg , mix well and cook covered on very low flame for about 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with chapatis or naan..

This dish is a creamy satiny curry with very soft and fresh paneer . The sauce is just enough to coat the paneer cubes and the vegetables bits are soft cooked but not gooey . The onion and spinach both retain their individuality and yet mingle with the subtle spicing .

Red chilly flakes , green chillies and black peppercorns make the dish quite hot too which hits the palate instantly . The heat becomes lesser when the dish is consumed the next day . It reheats very well in the microwave and freezes well too .

Adjust heat to your preference and add lesser red chilly flakes if you want it mild and if you are serving it immediately after cooking. If serving the next day you could go liberal with chilly or peppercorns...

Roomali roti or thin chapatis are the best accompaniments . A greens salad could make a great meal along with it...