Monday, May 24, 2004

Did someone say, “Saag paneer”? Yes. Months ago.

My apologies. I ought not go on about the difficulty in asking my friend Natalie to give me her recipe, debating whether to reveal the blog (and consequently my blog and Stresch’s blog), eventually deciding to ask and tell her about them if it came up. She didn’t ask, but she also didn’t get me the recipe. She’s pregnant and hating food and just got back from Paris where there’s nothing to eat if you’re a vegetarian-leaning mom-to-be in your first trimester and ready to barf on the next waiter who offers you quiche. I really needed her recipe, since she’s the only person I know who has spent significant time in India and actually cooks Indian food.

This version is Nita Mehta’s Palak-Paneer. We ate it just the other night and loved it.

150 gms paneer, cut into 1” cubes and deep fried
½ kg spinach with small leaves
2 onions
1” piece ginger
5-6 flakes garlic
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 green chilies, chopped
2-3 T ghee (butter is adequate but inauthentic)
salt to taste
2 moti illaichi (brown cardamom), skinned and crushed

Wash and chop the spinach. Steam until cooked through but still bright green. Rinse with cold water and drain, then grind into a smooth paste. Grind the onions, garlic, and ginger together. Heat the ghee in a pan and add the onion paste, cooking until golden brown. Add the spinach and cook for 5-7 minutes over low heat. Add salt, illaichi, and paneer and stir well.

Optional: Just before serving, drizzle a hot mixture of 1 T ghee and 1 t red chili powder over the top and mix well.

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