Palak Paneer (from scratch)

September 12, 2011
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Since the beginning of time, I have been obsessed with cheese. I can’t get enough of it and am in serious withdrawal stages at the moment due to our wedding diet. Although it’s probably for the best. It’s all or nothing with me and cheese. When Stud and I first started going out, we would buy a little picnic pack of a few types of cheeses, water crackers and brioche toasts and sit in bed, watching a DVD and having a cheese picnic. True story. Shameful, but true.

Also thanks to this wedding diet, we are trying not to eat carbs at dinner. We allow ourself a little grace on weekends or if we go out somewhere special but for the most part, its not as hard as we had thought and are doing pretty well. Until that is, we had friends over for dinner on Saturday and I was making my vindaloo and the usually accompaniment is rice. Carbs. Damn it!

I thought about it for a long time. What about flat bread? Carbs. Idiot. Rostis? Same. Crap! Palak paneer? Bingo! I had wanted to try it for ages, it sounded delicious, and still filling enough that we didn’t miss rice. Done! Hang on, where do you buy paneer?? Google failed me and with Saturday being a busy day, we didn’t have time to go searching so I had a look around for a recipe for paneer. I’d always wanted to make my own cheese and this recipe couldn’t be simpler!

So first thing Saturday morning (before my 9:00am hair appointment, eager as I was), I was off to Woollies to buy a 2 Litre full fat milk and some lemons. That’s. It! So easy :)

I let curds separate from the whey (just reminds me of Little Miss Muffat – poor thing eating curds and whey, blegh! The spider visit was probably welcome!!) for most of the morning and then wrapped the curds in muslin until it had drained completely. Still a little wet, I ended up then putting it on a few paper towels and sandwiching it between two plates, weighed down by my heavy pan.

Dum duuuuuuum – I had made cheese. Ok, it’s probably not a massive feat but I was so excited that I was singing and dancing around the house, bringing Stud in every 10 minutes or so to get a good look at my masterpiece. He was over it by about the second time.


Palak paneer is actually a really easy dish to make – even easier if you buy the paneer (although it’s so simple, you might as well make it from scratch). It went great with the vindaloo and you definitely feel healthier eating it rather than stodgy rice. I’m not trying to convert you, I love carbs and will rekindle my relationship in a few months, but just for something different, give it a go. It was (to quote Giuliana and Bill – love that show!) amazeballs!!

 

Paneer (from scratch)

Adapted from Manjulas kitchen

Ingredients

2 Litres full fat milk
¼ cup lemon juice mixed with ½ cup hot water

Method

Boil the milk in a heavy bottomed pan over medium/high heat, stirring occasionally, making sure not to burn milk.

As the milk comes to a boil, add the lemon juice gradually and stir the milk gently. The curd will start separating from the whey, turn off the heat.


Once the milk fat has separated from the whey, drain the whey using a strainer lined with muslin.

Wrap the curds in a muslin cloth, rinse under cold water, and squeeze well. This takes out the sourness from the lemon.

Place a heavy bowl on top of the strainer for about an hour then transfer to a plate lined with three paper towels. Place 3 more paper towels on top, add a plate and place a heavy pan (or anything heavy really) on top. You may need to replace the paper towels with fresh dry towels when they become saturated.


Palak paneer

Serves 4

Adapted from Food Safari

Ingredients

3 bunches English spinach (should have 500g total once stems removed)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cm piece ginger, crushed
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ can diced tomatoes
Salt to taste
225g paneer (I just used my entire bounty, I didn’t weigh it before using it though)
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (I used seeds, still turned out yum)
Pinch garam masala

Method

Remove spinach leaves from stems and wash leaves well. Blanch in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes then refresh in cold water, drain, squeeze out excess water and puree until smooth.


Heat oil in a heavy based pan. Add cumin seeds, ginger, garlic and onions and fry until golden brown.


Add tomatoes and cook until they become a soft paste. Stir in spinach puree and season with salt. Crumble in the paneer.


Finish with fenugreek leaves and garam masala. Serve hot.

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These views are mine and mine only. I don't claim to be any kind of professional food critic, I just know what I do and don't like and express accordingly. Please contact me first if you wish to use any of my images for another purpose.