Every time I hear a vegetable vendor, I am happy to take my veggie sack and head out to the four wheeled vegetable market to see the spectrum of rich colored vegetables. The sunny lemons to grassy dill leaves, the earthly potatoes to vibrant eggplants – full of colors. It is a visual treat to see such colorful, juicy and soul nourishing food.
It gives me immense pleasure to cook them up with rich aromatic spices, try out new recipe with each of them and turn them into something that is visually as appealing as well as to taste.
I have a weakness for green, leafy veggies and I like to cook them in a variety of ways. Spinach is one such veggie that can be cooked in a number of different ways and can taste very good. Though I don’t like it all on its own, when paired up with different ingredients, the dish can turn out to be absolutely delicious.
Another reason I like this veggie is it gets cooked in no time. Many a times I have literally cooked up a meal in about 15 minutes using my favorite, spinach, potato and rice.
Palak paneer is a recipe which has its roots in northern part of India. It is basically cottage cheese in a gravy prepared from spinach, tomato and onion with Indian spices. If you want you can add a dash of cream in the gravy.
What I try to make today is vegan friendly. That means you can replace cottage cheese with tofu and ghee with oil.
Also I have made this recipe very pantry friendly. That means I have skipped an item or two in this recipe as it was unavailable with me.
Prep time : Around 20 mins
Serves : 4 people
Cooking time : If spinach blanched and pureed before hand then 10 mins
1 large bunch of spinach leaves/ 4 cups of chopped leaves
2 cups cottage cheese cubes/ tofu
2 tomatoes blanched and puréed
1 tbsp sunflower seeds *(for thickening of gravy)
1 onion Chopped
5 small cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger
1/2 tbsp chilli powder
1/2 tbsp Garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp ghee/oil
1. Soak the sunflower seeds in warm water and keep it aside
2. Blanche the spinach leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes . Strain it and put it in cold water to retain its fresh green colour. When it is cool enough grind it to a paste. see to it that u do not add water, as it will become very runny. Keep aside.
3. Grind the onion and make a ginger garlic paste. Grind the sunflower seeds soaked in water and keep aside.
4. Take a pan and pour the ghee/oil in it. When it is hot enough pour the onion gravy. Let it cook for around a minute or two or until it turns slightly pinkish. Add ginger garlic paste and stir.
5. Now, add the tomato puree to the pan. Stir it till the ingredients mix well. When you see small bubbles, let the spinach gravy in and add the seasonings, chilli powder, Garam masala, turmeric, cumin powder and salt along with the sunflower seeds paste.
6. Let it cook for around 4-5 minutes depending on the temperature in your area. I cook at 35 degree and above temperatures right now, so everything cooks too soon. Stir it once or twice to check there is no burning at the bottom of the pan if not using non stick pans.
7. Lastly add the cottage cheese cubes to the spinach curry and stir it very slowly to mix it well so that the cheese is well coated for optimum flavour.
Serve it with parathas, laccha paratha or bread. It tastes amazing with steamed rice too.
*- since I am not using cream I add some ground sunflower seeds to thicken the gravy if it gets runny. You can completely avoid this.