I have gone through many recipes to find a version which retains the traditional flavours and textures without the heaviness of cream or butter! So here I present to you my tried and tested Palak Paneer, tasty, nutritious and just spot on 🙂
Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 30 mins No. of Servings: 3-4
For the Spinach
500g fresh baby spinach, washed and drained
3 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 red onions
1 tsp salt
10-12 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 green chillies, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
good splash of water + more as needed
For the Paneer
350g Paneer, cubed
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
Pinch of salt
In a deep wok or karahi, gently heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. Wait until they begin to sizzle and then add the onions.
Stir in the salt with the onions, cover and cook on medium heat until soft and golden. Stir in the garlic, ginger and green chilli and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the dry spices (coriander and cumin) and cook 1-2 minutes adding a splash of water. Simmer for another minute.
Add the fresh spinach, cover on low heat cook until wilted.
Stir the wilted spinach to coat with the onions and spice mixture. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Transfer the cooked spinach to a large bowl and blitz to a rough pureed consistency and set aside.
To prepare the paneer, add the oil to the wok or karahi and heat gently. Add the paneer cubes together with the spices and salt. Stir fry until golden (approx. 4-5 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.
Return the spinach to the wok or karahi, add a little water cover and cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another minute.
Stir in the paneer cubes and cook uncovered for another 2 minutes.
One of my favourite lentil curries often made at my in-laws, I have just reduced the use of oil to the bare minimum 😊 Enjoy with naan, boiled rice or fragrant zeera (cumin) rice for a wholesome, healthy and heart-warming dish on a cold winter’s day.
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 45 mins
1 cup whole red lentils
3 cups water + plus a more during cooking
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 green chilliest ( optional)
2 tbsp oil
1tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste, or 2 cloves finely minced
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
1 tsp salt or to taste
Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Fresh ginger slivers and lemons wedges (optional garnish)
How to prepare
Rinse the lentils and pressure cook until tender (about 20 minutes).
Heat the oil gently in a saucepan and add the cumin. Wait till they change colour.
Add the onions and green chilli; cook until the onions have softened.
Add the garlic and cook off for 30 seconds.
Stir in the tomato with the salt, cover and cook until softened completely.
Add the dry spices and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
Add a little water and continue cooking to create a semi-dry mixture – ‘bhuna’.
Add the cooked lentils to the pan and mix well.
Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup hot water, stir again and bring to boil.
Simmer the dal until the desired consistently is achieved – add more water if you preferred a runnier curry.
Stir in the coriander leaves and remove from the heat.
Top with the ginger slivers and lemon wedges, if using.
I had promised myself an early night, but instead, I found myself writing up recipes for this week’s advanced class and then landing here. Oh well, so much for catching up on sleep…
With the chilly weather and uninspiring November rain settling in, we look for pleasure in creature comforts, being the forever wanting mortals that we are. I pictured myself curling up on my cosy, worn out 12-year-old sofa in the conservatory, sipping a cup of freshly brewed Indian Chai, watching the rain wash out my back garden. Now add to that some hot ‘n’ spicy veggie samosas, sweet onion bhajis or garma garam (steaming hot) pakoras and you are transported to the heavenly planes.
A lovely lady who joined my cookery classes earlier this summer has moved onto my advanced course. We have been through several dishes, some of which have been challenging and some rather elaborate. This week’s class where we are making the rather delectable Kashmiri Chai and traditional Indian snacks is a much anticipated one and well timed I would say. A perfect antidote for the Winter blues.
Stay tuned as I will be sharing the recipe for these crispy pakoras in my next post.
Chai for me is to be enjoyed on its own. Simple. No food required. I often long for a ‘dhaba’ (roadside restaurant) style desi (with reference to all things South Asian) chai. The last time I enjoyed the authenticity of sitting by a roadside kiosk at dusk, sipping a hot, sweet masala chai, was during one of my rare visits to Bangladesh – a place where I spent a good part of my childhood. Sadly, most restaurants in London will not serve a tea without a meal…unlike our coffee shops. So whilst my day always starts with a desi cardamom chai, when out and about, like a bee to drawn to nectar, I find myself in my favourite coffee shop ordering a “Grande Soya Chai Tea Latte, extra chai, no water” – a bit of a mouthful but certainly worth the effort. Worth noting: The soya lends a creamy sweetness which I find lacking in the dairy version. However, during a recent visit to a well known curry house, I was blown away by the luscious Kashmiri Chai served, on request, BEFORE my meal. Now let me tell you a little about this beverage. Kashmiri Chai, otherwise know as Sheer Chai or Pink Tea is a traditional Kashmiri drink brewed from special tea leaves and served with cardamom, pistachios and almonds served as a warming beverage during the cold winter months in India and Pakistan; also enjoyed during festivities and celebrations. It’s characteristic pink colour is achieved by adding a pinch of baking soda. Not wanting to go out for a full blown meal, but longing to indulge in this very superior version of chai, I took to the stove with a zealous determination to recreate the magic of Kashmir in my South West London home kitchen, albeit a lower fat rendition.
Cooking Time: approx. 1-2 hours Serves: 4
2 tbl kashmiri or green tea leaves
2 cups water
1 cup half fat milk
¼ tsp baking soda
1/3 cup half fat evaporated milk (opional)
10-12 cardamon pods, split and used whole or seeds crushed
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of ground pistachios (optional)
pinch of ground almonds (optional)
How to brew
Bring 2 cup of water to boil.
Add the tea leaves and bring to boil.
Cover and simmer for 60-90 minutes until the liquid turns a reddish colour.
Add the baking soda and shake, then bring back to boil.
Add the another cup of water (preferably chilled), pouring it in from a height.
Shift the liquid between the pan and another pan or jug, by pouring the liquid from a height from one to the other – this process enhances the flavour and pink colour.
Return to boil.
Strain the liquid and return to the pan.
Bring back to boil and add the milk and sugar.
Gently bring to boil and simmer for 5 mins.
Pour in the evaporated milk (if using) and again bring to boil and simmer for 1-2 mins.
Pour into your favourite chai mugs and top with crushed nuts if desired.