Sunday, February 27, 2011

Indian Feast!

Last week, my sister and a friend decided we need to have Indian night. So that is what we did. I made 2 dishes, one is butter chicken, which was so smooth and flavorful and the other was saag paneer. Sadly, I only can show you the lovely saag. I was surprised at how easy these recipes were, even though they did require a lot of different steps such as blending (in a blender) and cooking ingredients separately. If, you get everything set up and ready to go then it is easier than it sounds. I also don't tend to use the amount of oil and butter the recipes call for, one book is telling me to use a cup of oil to saute onions, seriously?Anyway,  this, is the result:
Not the best photo, but when I saw these colors together, I had to stop and stare like a creep. The saag (spinach) was the brightest green I had ever seen while cooking, and on the right was bold red with the white paneer on top. Now that is Indian cooking!

3 tablespoons oil
7 oz paneer, cubed 
3-4 whole cardamom pods
½-inch stick cinnamon
1 tbsp chopped ginger (I use ginger paste from a jar)
4-5 chopped garlic cloves
2 onions, one diced large, and the other sliced
¼ cup chickpea flour
1 bag frozen spinach (could use fresh but this is so much easier)
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 large tomato, chopped
½ teaspoon chile powder (how spicy do you like it?)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 teaspoons salt

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Really, try to use nonstick, you'll be browning cheese! When the pan and oil are hot, add the paneer cubes in a single layer. Check regularly to see when the sides have browned. Flip each piece and brown the other side, then move to a plate, sprinkle with some salt.

In the same nonstick pan, heat the other tablespoon of oil. Add the cardamom and cinnamon and toast for a few seconds. Add the ginger, garlic, and cubed onions and saute till the onions are translucent. Add the chickpea flour and stir continuously. The flour will brown slightly and give a nutty aroma when done. Put this mix into a small bowl and allow to cool, smells nice doesn't it?

Add the onion-chickpea flour mixture to a blender and blend till completely smooth. Leave the cardamom pods and cinnamon in, the blender will pulverize them to delicious aromas.  Next add the cooked greens, but do not puree into soup, just enough to chop into a smooth vibrant green paste. You may have to do this in batches to avoid the soup threat.

In the original pan, add the last tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the turmeric and cumin seeds and toast until the aromas fill the kitchen (just a few seconds). Add the sliced onions and sautee for two minutes. Add the tomatoes and toss to combine. Next add the browned paneer cubes, chile powder, cumin powder, fenugreek powder, and coriander powder and cook for a few minutes. 

Lastly add the spinach mixture, ½ cup of water, and the salt and stir to combine and simmer. You may need to add a little more salt to season. Oh, and Enjoy!

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