September 25, 2012

Palak Paneer/ Cottage Cheese in Spinach Sauce

There is no fun in blogging anymore. Once upon a time, there were few blogs and there were few bloggers and being food crazy was frowned upon. Hence there was this thrill in writing lustily about a particular recipe, as if you just stumbled upon its virtues,as if it changes your life (it may have!!),  as if you were the only one in the world who could make it well and photograph it like never seen before, tempting lots and lots of readers who still haven't discovered the secret.
What secret, you ask? Well the secret is that dear readers, anybody can cook and just like any other skill, the more u cook, the better you become....But now there are sooooooooooo many blogs.. that there is no need  for me to blog anymore.

 I can spend my days surfing on others blogs and see and enjoy the thrill in the younger blogs while I secretly miss the old hats whose blogs lie still and dead, gathering dust like the empty tharavadus in Kerala.  I wish all these bloggers would wake up and blog once more, just to see some new words from them..just for a new line of conversation... not for the recipes which abound everywhere.
Between the frozen aisle which imports everything u miss, to the multitude of new bloggers, there is no recipe left to cover now. Its just versions and versions...which is really what a recipe is... a version of a food played out in your family, customized to your family's tastes.

Rant apart, an old standby which is the best way to get spinach into my kids, though my better half refuses to touch it..:) Palak Paneer, which is fried cubes of cottage cheese in a spiced up spinach gravy. Some fry the paneer, some toss it with tandoori spices and grill it, some put in bland... it works any way..just don't add cream to the final gravy , Ala restaurant style.

Paneer cubes - 15-20 .
Onion - 1 small onion
Garlic Clove-3
Coriander Powder-1 Tsp.
Cumin Seeds -1/2 tsp Tsp.
Turmeric- 1/8 tsp
Asafoetida- A pinch
Red Chili Powder-1/4 tsp
Garam Masala- A pinch.
Oil -2-3 Tbsp.

For Gravy Base :
Spinach- 1 bunch.
Ginger small-1/2 inch
Onion- 2 tbsp chopped
Green Chilies(Small) 2-3 Nos
Salt to taste
Cream (Optional) 1 Tbsp

1. You could use fresh or good quality frozen spinach. Since this is one leaf that soaks up all the insecticides and stuff sprayed on it, use organic as much as possible.  Spinach if bought as fresh bunches from the farmer’s market or the Asian stores has a lot of sand on it. Soak the spinach in a large vessel with water for 10 minutes and rinse each leaf well under running water. Do not stint on washing it well. The sand can destroy all your hard work! If you are using pre-washed spinach, you could cook it as it is. Wash & drain the water from Spinach. Chop them coarsely.

2. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of oil in a non stick pan and sauté the paneer pieces till light golden on all sides. Take care not to leave the pan unattended as it gets burnt quickly. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Drain onto paper towels and keep aside.

3. Cook the spinach with the ginger, green chilies, ½ cup water and one clove of garlic in a pan till soft. If using a pressure cooker, cook for one whistle only.
When it cools down, blend the cooked spinach to a coarse paste using a hand blender or food processor. Use quick pulses to avoid blending it to a paste.

4. In the same wide pan heat the remaining oil, fry the chopped onions till translucent. Add the remaining garlic and sauté. Add the spice powders, 1 tablespoon of water and sauté for a minute. Take care not to burn the spices. Add the yogurt and when the liquid in it dries up add the blended spinach paste and salt.

5. Cover and let it simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes and add the paneer cubes. Let it cook for another 5-6 minutes to combine the flavors, check seasoning and add the tablespoon of cream. It should be slightly tangy and spicy. Add a pinch of garam masala before serving.

Tips to Note:
Do not add any additional water for blending. The spinach should be coarse but should not be fibrous.
Do not add any water while cooking the gravy. The gravy has to get thickened on medium heat so the more the water, the more time it will take and it will dilute the flavor of the spinach.
Add tomato instead of yogurt in the first cooking of the spinach for the tanginess.


Myra said...

Hello Shaheen,
It's true there so many blogs around,but very few good ones..yours for me is among the good one's,i love to read your antidote before the recipe,you have a lovely way with words.......
Your recipes are authentic,and come straight from your heart,i have tried so many and have never been disappointed.
So yes you still need to Blog xx
I love Spinach,so another recipe to try thanks to you Shaheen
Yours Myra :-) xxx

Poornima said...

So good to see you back!I really enjoy your recipes and sincerely hope you wont stop blogging.

the five o'clock teaspoon :: said...

Yes, food blogging has turned into a business. But the less flashy old school food blogs are often the most readable and enticing. Always enjoy your recipes and writing!

Jaya said...

Same thoughts here...but always good to see and read your posts..Keep them coming..I tend to add paneer cubes without frying in spinach gravy for Palak -paneer and my Ma thinks otherwise..She always slightly fry them before using it in any gravy...Do keep writing..hugs

J said...

Hey Shaheen, how are you? Liked what you wrote.... so true! But do keep blogging, I still use your beautiful posts on bbq and it's a hit with friends. Keep writing...:)

Pravs said...

oh you said it ! :) It's the same for me... the fun of blogging has dimmed and i miss the older bloggers.
A nice palak and paneer dish. I like the paneer fried :)

Anonymous said...

I can see where you are coming from.It is hard to maintain the intensity when the love is gone.

Love to Experiment said...

Hi Shaheen...

I agree to the fact that there are too many food blogs there but how many of these bloggers do you think seriously blog with their hearts and mind to it. To discover true flavours and share it, requires talent and many, nowadays do not possess it.

I started blogging because I was truly inspired by blogs like this one. I wanted to make friends and be inspired them. But once I started, the new culture of blogging disgusted me. For many blogging is simply copying some recipes without giving due credit, a few clicks without thoughts and target hits. There is no genuinity in the comments they post. There are just a handful of blogs who have the real passion for food.

So never think about quitting. I doubt if any of these new food blogs will be looked upon as a genuine food blog. I wish google had some other methods to rank pages.

I, honestly, wish that I had entered the blog world earlier. I could have made some genuine friends with people like you - people with real love for food.

But I know there are some new blogs that I am happy to have come across and happy to follow. Hopefully in the long run I will also discover friendships that you enjoyed having.

Keep blogging Shaheen. You still have more people to inspire.


Love to Experiment said...

Hi Shaheen...

I had put a long ranting yesterday here about new blogging practises. Hope I didn't irritate you. I was just suddenly filled with so much dissappontment and somehow I've always felt close to you through your blog and just opened up.

I am extremely sorry if I've hurt you.
The bottomline is I and other foodies miss you. Do come vpback...


Murat said...

Ohhh Great.. I liked.



shankari said...

Most Food blogs have a different agenda these days. A lot of your chicken recipes have been made at home. Two years ago your roast chicken recipe adorned our thanksgiving table. I have not been blogging very regularly either.

asha said...

Hey Shaheen.. just chanced upon your updates in my reader. That was a happy surprise to see you back in action. Don't worry about too many people in the space. The good ones will always stay on - yours has such lovely recipes and writing.
hoping to see a lot more zing from you girl :)

Bharathy said...

There's nothing saddening than seeing a blogger still!

I know and had been thinking the same way...getting almost drowned in the ocean of bloggers, fearing un recognised...

after 6 long years of blogging the traffic (compared to the new blogs)in mine is meagre...still I do it!

Don't feel like giving up the little space I own though kinda lost....

Come back! miss you!!
The world is always in need of recipes!

Shaan said...

I still read and re-read your old recipes and the nice lil story behind them. Even though I'm a guy, I love to watch the Food Network and specially Jamie Oliver shows. Your blogs are wonderful and keep up the spirit. There are fans who want the authentic stuff !

Gujarati Zaika said...

visit your place and follow you
inviting.. happy to follow u... would be glad if u follow back :)