No Pakistani can ever resist some palak paneer

Published: September 27, 2014
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Palak Paneer – curried spinach with cottage cheese. PHOTO: AMBREEN MALIK

I was in Pakistan for a few weeks to attend a sibling’s wedding. However, the trip turned out to be longer than expected because of the political situation in the twin cities that led to the cancellation and rescheduling of the wedding a few times. Because of this, many invitees were unable to attend the events.

The happy affair turned into a stressful one as the two families tried to get through the logistical nightmare that blockages and the long march had created between Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The mehendi was cancelled, the wedding reception was organised at a four-hour notice and the valima was postponed by more than a week. But nothing dampened the spirits of the lovely bride and the groom, which boosted everyone’s mood.

The valima dinner menu consisted of palak paneer – curried spinach with cottage cheese – which happens to be a favourite in Pakistan, especially during winters.  So here I am, sharing with all of you the recipe of one of my personal favourites.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Ingredients:

Spinach/palak – ½ kg (chopped – steam and blend about a kilogram of fresh spinach. I am using frozen but you can use fresh if available)

Cottage cheese/paneer – 250 grams (gms) (cut in bite size cubes)

Tomatoes – 3 to 4 medium sized (pureed with a green chilli)

Green chilli – 1 medium sized

Fenugreek/methi seeds – 1 tsp (heaped)

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp (crushed)

Coriander seeds – 1 tsp (crushed)

Dried fenugreek leaves/kasuri methi – 1 tbsp (heaped)

Whole dried chillies – 3

Fresh ginger/garlic paste – 1 tsp (heaped)

Chilli powder – 1 tsp (adjust to taste)

Salt – 1 tsp (adjust to taste)

Oil – 4 tbsp

Oil – 1 cup (for frying the cottage cheese)

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Method:

1. Heat the oil that is to be used for frying the cottage cheese in a frying pan and fry the cubed cottage cheese until it turns golden brown. Remove on a kitchen paper and set aside.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

2. Heat the rest of the oil (4 tbsp) in a pan and add ginger/garlic paste. Once it becomes golden, add cumin seed, coriander seeds, whole red chillies and fenugreek seeds into the pan and cook for one minute.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

3. Add tomato puree, salt and chilli powder into the pan and mix. Cook until the water dries out completely.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

4. Add spinach to the mixture. Cover and let it thaw for 10-15 minutes.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

5. Add dried fenugreek leaves to the mixture and let the water dry out completely.

6. Add fried cottage cheese cubes to the mixture and mix. Cover for 4-5 minutes over low heat till the stream of oil flows out to the sides.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Palak paneer can be served with boiled rice or homemade flat bread.

A simple yet delicious dish that keeps you wanting more. The saltiness of the cottage cheese combined with the freshness and spiceness of the spinach, what more can you ask for. No Pakistani can resist it, that’s for sure!

This post originally appeared here.

Ambreen Malik

Ambreen Malik

The author is a Microfinance Banker, food blogger, LSE Alum and a dragon in training. She tweets as @ambreen_malik (twitter.com/ambreen_malik)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.