Saturday, December 31, 2005

From my Rasoi: Warming Vegetable Paneer

Meena, from Hooked on Heat, has an idea for a new blogging event. It's called From my Rasoi and it celebrates homemade Indian food. This inaugural month, the theme is Winter.

I have always loved Indian food, but I've never made it at home. For some reason, it seemed too exotic, too full of flavors I don't normally use. And I'm not very good about following recipes to the letter, which I would have to do when making something so totally new. But seeing Meena's event announcement, I was convinced to search through Mom's Indian cookbooks and finally settled on a simple recipe for Curried Butternut Squash Soup.

However, since nothing ever goes according to plan, tonight we got home late from a Holiday Party, not quite in the mood for a real dinner and the Boy was out with his brother, who's in town for the weekend. So I raided the fridge, planning on making something simple, and came up with a packet of Paneer, Indian cheese. There was also some frozen spinach and already cut-up fresh broccoli left over from Christmas Eve. So I played around and came up with a variation on one of my favorite Indian dishes--Palak Paneer, but with broccoli. And I added judicious amounts of the various Indian spices I found on the spice rack. It came out delicious and warming--definitely something I would make again.

Warming Vegetable Paneer

2 tablespoons Canola Oil
1/2 White Onion, chopped
1 package frozen Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 head Broccoli, chopped
Water as needed
3-4 tablespoons Half and Half

Salt to taste
2 teaspoons Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Cumin, ground
pinch Black Mustard Seeds, ground
pinch Fenugreek, ground
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
2 canned Tomatoes, chopped + Liquid
1 package Paneer Cheese, Cubed

In a pot, heat Canola Oil over medium heat. Add Onion and saute until golden.

Add Spinach and Broccoli, cooking until Spinach turns into a paste and Broccoli is able to be cut with a fork. Stir frequently. Add Water and Tomato Liquid as necessary to cook the Broccoli. (Spinach gives off a lot of liquid whereas Broccoli sucks it up.) If necessary, cover the pot so the vegetables cook faster.

Add Half-and-Half, Garam Masala, Cumin, Fenugreek, Mustard Seeds, Turmeric, Salt and Tomatoes. Mix well, until everything is combined and Spinach has thickened and become truly pasty due to the addition of the Half-and-Half.

Add paneer. Mix everything again and adjust seasonings to taste. Cook for 10 more minutes. Taste and Salt as necessary. Add a splash of lemon juice if desired. Serve warm, preferably over Rice.

and and and and and and

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