Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Palak Paneer







We had some Palak which we had bought last weel from a new Indian store that opened up in our area. And I was as usual very excited about it as I found that the prices were pretty affordable and they had a big store full of Indian groceries :) .......So I decided to make Palak Paneer which my husband loves a lot, and so do I , and so does most of us, right? :) .....The pics must not have come so well, and thats coz I was too impatient to concentrate on the picture quality as the aroma of the Palak Paneer was making me impatient to be long enough behind the camera hehe. Anyways here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
Palak: a small bunch
Paneer: around 20 cubes or more as per your liking
Tomato: 1 nos Diced
Onion: 1 nos cut lengthwise
Garlic: 3 segments
Ginger Garlic paste: 3 teaspoons
Green Chilli: 3 nos minced
Coriander leaves (Cilantro): 4 - 5 strands
Coriander powder: 2 teaspoons
Cumin seeds: 2 teaspoons
Fenugreek seeds: 2 teaspoons
Butter or Oil for sauting
Salt
Pepper (optional)
Method:
  • Grind well the Palak along with garlic, coriander leaves , and a little water (or whey which is the left over water after making Paneer) .
  • Heat a little Butter and saute cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, garlic, green chilli, tomato and onion in the order while adding each these.
  • Add the ginger - garlic paste and saute, then add the coriander powder. Stir until well mixed. If the mixture starts to stick to the bottom, add a little water (say about 1 or 2 tablespoons) and stir again.
  • Add the ground Palak mixture and stir again. Add salt. Stir and keep the fire high. When the mixture starts boiling, add the paneer cubes and stir again. Wait until the mixture boils again.
  • Lower the fire and let it be like that for 2 minutes more. To make a thick gravy, mix a smooth paste of all purpose flour or rice flour mixed in some water.

There, your Palak paneer is ready!

How to make home made Paneer (Indian Cheese)


These days I was into using more of veggies in my cooking. I was also finding new information about milk products as we had bought fat-free mozarella cheese these days. It was then I remembered about my continuos failed attempts to make Paneer at home. My vegetarian friend Shubha is quiet an inspiration when it comes to vegetarian cooking. I must say I really wanted to try making Paneer coz she happend to mention once that she could make it with great easiness.

So keeping all this in mind, I started searching on the internet whether it is possible to make paneer with fat-free milk or atleast 1% low -fat milk which we had purchased recently after vijay (my hubby) started frowning seeing the skimmed milk section as the tea and coffee was almost becoming tasteless ;)) coz of our diet control. Well, we decided to give ourselves a break, so this time we purchased the 1 % milk which we used to purchase a long time back. Oh, I didnt mention the main point here...what I came to know was, if you do not want to purchase whole milk just for making Paneer , well, you can definitly make paneer with the 1% lowfat (coz I tried it this time) , but you should be satisfied with the amount of Paneer you get out of it , which is around, I got around 20 small cubes [not too small, but atleast its enough to satisfy your palate for a single round of Palak Paneer atleast ;) ] after I cut it into pieces. And this I got from using 3 cups of lowfat milk. I have posted the pic above. Hope you are able to judge by the pic. So let me tell you how I made this with 1% lowfat milk. You people can make it with whole milk if you are a Paneer lover ;)

Ingredients:

Milk (1% low fat milk) : 3 cups
Curd (non-fat), or lemon or vinegar (I used curd) : 3 tablespoons (just smoothen the lumps if you have thick curd before adding it to make paneer

Method:
  • Boil milk. When milk starts boiling, it starts producing bubbles and starts rising up. So be careful not to allow it from spilling outside.
  • When the boiling milk starts rising, remove it from the stove and immedietly add the curd and slowly stir it with the spoon to avoid any lumps.
  • If the milk is not curdling, add a few drops of lemon, and keep stirring.
  • Keep doing this with a slow motion (it took around 10 minutes, not that you have to keep stirring the whole 10 minutes, you can take a small break in between :) ] until the milk which had started to curdle, fully separates into a yellow/green color liquid (which is called whey) and paneer.
  • Now tie a cheesecloth around a vessel. Pour the curdled milk through the cheesecloth slowly.
  • After all the water seeped through the cheesecloth, carefully gather the sides of the cheesecloth and squeeze out the excess water from the Paneer as much as possible.
  • To make this more effective, after squeezing, place the cheesecloth with the Paneer on a flat plate. Keep a heavy thing like a heavy book or something on top of it. Let it remain this way for around 20 - to 30 minutes.
  • Open the cheesecloth and you have a solid flat "home made Paneer" in front of you.
  • Refrigerate (Dont freeze) it for around half and hour to get a stiffer Paneer, so that you can easily cut into cubes.

I did it this way and I loved it. And one more thing, don't waste the whey (the yellow/green liquid left behind after the Paneer is separated). Its rich in protein and is claimed to be called "Comfort Protein" in a commercial ad selling a baby food (I dont remember which ad it is) . I came across that term "Comfort Protein" and found it very interesting and then I noticed that it was written "whey" when they showed the same ad next time. So you can use this liquid for gravy while making dishes like Palak Paneer. Hope you enjoy preparing this famous Indian Cheese to use it in your favorite dishes!

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