Cooking with Farm Fresh veggies / Gravy side-dishes

Cooking with Farm Fresh Vegetables: Palak Paneer

My parents have a nice little kitchen garden in their backyard and this winter past saw it reaping a wonderful crop of vegetables such as spinach (palak/keerai), fenugreek (methi/menthiya keerai), white radish (mooli/mulangi) and cauliflower (phool gobhi) as well as a dainty little bed of coriander (dhaniya/kothamalli).

Spinach in the foreground and White Radish leaves in the background

The last month or so that I’ve been here with them, we’d decide to pull out a certain vegetable each morning and cook something with the freshest-of-fresh possible veggies

It feels wonderful to swoop down these patches of freshest-of-fresh veggies and pluck one or the other and wash the mud off. Freshly cut spinach, fenugreek and coriander leaves leave a wonderful pleasant aroma on your fingers and it is a real pleasure to chop these up. The leaves are real tender and as green as green can be.

The experience of working with these fresh vegetables has prompted me to start a series on simple dishes with these farm fresh vegetables. A couple of weeks ago, I put up the first of these posts – a homely dal (lentil in watery gravy) with bok-choy and fenugreek leaves. I now intend to make it a weekly series as we cook with these backyard veggies almost every other day. The flavour of these fresh vegetables ensures that even the most simple preparation seems straight out of a gourmand kitchen.

Here’s what we prepared with fresh spinach leaves and paneer (cottage cheese) a few days ago:

Palak Paneer (Cottage Cheese in Spinach Gravy)

Ingredients:

Cottage cheese – 200 gm (cubed)

Spinach – 3-4 cups (roughly chopped)

Onion – 1 (large)

Garlic – 3 cloves

Green chillies – 2-3

Ginger – ½ inch piece

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Oil – 1 tsp

Garam masala* – 1 tsp

Lemon juice – 2 tsp

Salt

Optional:

Cream – 2 tbsp or milk – ½ cup (I haven’t used it in my preparation, but this tends to make the dish creamy and rich)

* Indian spice powder that is blend of cinnamon, cloves, black pepper and cumin seeds, among others

Method:

Wash spinach leaves in 3-4 changes of water as they tend to be very muddy when plucked fresh

Heat a pot of water and throw the roughly chopped leaves of spinach into it

Take off heat after 5 mins

Drain water and dunk leaves into a pot of cold water

Drain water and puree spinach leaves along with ginger and green chillies

Finely chop the onion and garlic

Heat oil and splutter mustard seeds

Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté till it turns translucent

Add red chilli and coriander powder. Mix well

Add spinach puree and garam masala

Sauté for a couple of mins and add paneer cubes and salt

Sauté for a few more mins till spinach puree looks well cooked

Add cream or milk, if using and mix well

Add water as required to adjust consistency

Take off heat and add lemon juice

Serve hot with rotis (Indian breads)

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4 thoughts on “Cooking with Farm Fresh Vegetables: Palak Paneer

  1. Pingback: Cooking with Farm Fresh Veggies: Cabbage stir-fried with Capsicum & Green Peas « foodiliciousnan

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