On Monday we had Palak paneer for dinner. For those of you who are not that familiar with Indian food, paneer is an Indian soft white cheese and palak is a spinach sauce. This dish has been the culmination of weeks of yearning, planning, prepping and finally cooking and eating. Ultimately it is a really simple dish and is one of my favourite dishes at Eastern Bazaar, but I really felt liking cooking it myself and was on the hunt for a source where I could buy fresh paneer. After sending out a request for info on Facebook and Twitter I got such an overwhelming response of people telling me how easy it was to make, I would have felt like a sissy not attempting it.
Well I did and it was easy but quite time consuming. If you want to see a step for step method of how to make your own paneer, click here. I did however receive a contact from a friend for Govindas Pure Vegetarian Cafe in Rondebosch, where you can buy it fresh. I just called there to verify this and spoke to the manageress, Lee-anne, who was incredibly helpful and friendly. She has given me her cell phone number for anyone who might want to buy paneer. You need to give them 48 hours notice and they will make it up fresh to order. Call Lee-anne on 074 134 2585 to place an order. I am now dying to go the restaurant to check it out.
Anyway, once I had the cheese, the sauce was super quick and easy, the rice I steamed with curry leaves and mustard seeds and it all made for a fabulous meal! I haven’t personally seen this sauce used with meat dishes but I think that it would taste great with cubed chicken breast or over tandoori chicken pieces too.
1 Tbsp of oil
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of garam masala
½ tsp of cumin
½ tsp of chilli powder (or to taste)
½ tsp of black pepper (or to taste)
½ tsp of salt
400g of spinach, well washed
200g of paneer, cut into bite size cubes
Fry the onions and garlic on medium high heat until they go translucent. Add the spices and fry for a minute or two. Add the spinach and fry that until it starts to wilt. Turn down the heat to low and put on the lid of the pot. Allow this to steam for a few minutes until the spinach is cooked but still bright green in colour. Blend this into a fine sauce, add water if it is too thick.
Add the paneer cubes and allow to cook on a very low simmer for a further 10 minutes or so. As with most curries they usually taste better on the second day, so it is great if you want to pre prepare this dish.
Serve this with steamed rice, roti, papadums, raita and sambals for a festive meal.