November 1, 2011

Palak (spinach)

I love palak! It's really healthy and can be made in so many different ways.  This recipe is actually for Palak Paneer, but because I don't usually have Paneer (soft Indian cheese) in my fridge, I excluded it from this dish.

Palak Paneer without the Paneer

4 packets chopped frozen spinach, thawed in wrappers
5 Roma tomatoes, washed and diced
6 green chilies, washed and chopped
1 onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp dried Kasur Methi (fenugreek leaves)
6 tbsp 2% milk
cayenne pepper to taste
salt to taste
water (optional)

Place thawed spinach in a mesh sieve or small-hole colander to drain out excess liquid.

In a large pot or sauce pan, cook diced onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until golden-to-dark-brown. Be careful not to burn onions.  Add minced garlic, ginger, chilies and cook for 1-2 minutes. Do not leave the stove! Stirring is very important here because minced garlic has a tendency to burn.  Once the garlic has taken on a slightly pink hue, toss in the tomatoes and fry them until some liquid is released.  Add in thawed spinach and the dried fenugreek leaves and cook for a few minutes while stirring frequently.  Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste ( tip: start off with 1/2 tsp each and increase the amount as the spinach cooks down).   If you find the spinach is sticking, add 1-2 tsp of water.   Stir in the garam masala powder and milk and turn the heat to low, cover the pot with its lid and let the spinach steam.   At this point, it's all about taste and texture and that means taking a spoon and taste-testing to see if the spinach is cooked through and has all the flavours.

Once the spinach is cooked, it'll look like one big chunky mess.  Let it cool slightly and then scoop it out into a food processor.  Spin it around in there until most of the ingredients have been pulverized. The result should be smooth yet slightly chunky, greeny goodness.  Serve with hot, buttery naan!

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