For the Lacha Paratha, I made this delicious rich Palak Paneer as the side dish. Served with some onion rings and lemon, this makes an absolutely inviting meal. First I planned on making this for dinner, but in our house we are so used to light dinners, I finally postponed it to the next day morning. This also went into Sruti’s lunch box. The idea of making palak paneer came to me when my friend Rashmi asked me about the recipe. Only then I found that I haven’t blogged about it. For the Punjabi theme I selected for this week, this would be an apt dish to make. The secret of maintaining the green colour of the gravy is in making the dish without tomato paste and red chilly powder. While cooking any greens, the pan should be open to preserve the green colour. That happens to be true even in cooking palak / spinach.
One more technique I tried here is smoking. Smoking a dish is so normal in Masterchef Australia. But they use a different method. I read about our method of smoking in one of Vaishali’s post. Placing a bowl inside the gravy with a red hot coal and pouring oil on top to create smoke. For flavours, turmeric, cumin seeds and any spices can be added. The pan is closed immediately and the smoke created from the coal will infuse in the dish giving it an unique flavour. This time I tried with turmeric and cumin and next time I am planning on star anise and cinnamon. I just loved the turmeric and cumin smoky flavour of the dish. As using only palak can make the gravy bitter, cream or cashew nut paste is added to mellow down the bitterness. But this also make the gravy so rich and will surely make you skip a meal. This palak paneer goes very well with any flat bread or rice varieties.
Palak / Spinach – 2 bunches
Oil – 2 tbs
Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon – 1 small piece
Onion – 1
Green Chilly – 4-5
Ginger – 1″ piece
Garlic – 4-5 pods
Garam Masala Powder – 1/2 tsp
Amchoor Powder – 1 tsp
Cashew nuts – 3 tbs
Salt -to taste
Paneer – 200 gm
In a pan add 1/4 cup of water and spinach leaves, and bring it to boil.
Turn the leaves until they wilt.
Remove from water and grind it to a smooth paste.
Reserve the water t use in the gravy.
Grind garlic, ginger and green chillies without water to make a coarse paste.
In a pan heat oil and add cumin and cinnamon.
Add finely chopped onions and sauté until golden.
Add the ginger, green chilly and garlic paste and sauté until the raw smell vanishes.
Add the ground palak and give a nice stir.
Add in water to make the gravy.
Add garam masala and amchoor and mix well.
Cook for 2minutes on low flame until all the spices are integrated.
Finally add the cashew paste and give a nice mix.
Add the paneer cubes and simmer until the cubes are tender.
Remove from flame.
Place a small bowl in the centre of the gravy.
Heat a small piece of coal until red hot.
Place it in the bowl.
Top it with a tsp of cumin seeds and half a tsp of turmeric powder.
Pour a tablespoon of oil on the coal.
Cover the pan immediately and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
Remove the bowl and serve palak paneer piping hot.
Click on image for recipe of Lacha Paratha