Palak Paneer (Spinach and Cheese)

Palak Paneer is one of my daughter’s favorite things to eat and I end up making this at least once a week. It contains the goodness of spinach and the protein of paneer, making it super healthy. Add a few spices, onions and tomatoes and it’s super yumm! This recipe was inspired by my mom. She taught me a different version of it a few years back. I modified it and tried a couple different variations of it, until I came up with this. My husband absolutely loves this version, as it’s similar to his absolute favorite dish cooked by me, paneer ki bhurji (Grated pressed cheese cooked with onions, tomatoes and spices). The story behind the bhurji is really interesting actually.

This was the first thing I ever cooked for him. We were courting then and my mum invited him over for lunch shortly after we got engaged. I was an amateur cook then. So while my mum cooked the rest of the food for the afternoon, I was cooking the paneer ki bhurji, while following her instructions. In the process, I confused coriander powder with garam masala and added two heaped teaspoons of garam masala to the bhurji instead of two teaspoons of coriander powder. Garam masala can be really pungent and in most of the food I cook, I add very little of it, from a pinch to half a teaspoon maybe. So to think I had added so much of it, I panicked! The one dish that I was cooking would end up being a disaster, and would probably not even end up on the table. But, my mom being the fabulous cook that she is, came to my rescue. We added quite a few tablespoons of heavy cream to it, to tone down the garam masala, and voilà to this day my husband says that was the best bhurji he has ever eaten! And I have never been able to replicate that!

Coming back to this recipe of Palak Paneer, I have combined a spinach and cheese recipe that my mom taught me with the paneer ki bhurji recipe and it tastes delicious!

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Here’s the recipe:

Palak Paneer

Ingredients:

  1. Spinach – 250 grams (roughly chopped)
  2. Olive oil – 1.5 tablespoon
  3. Onion – 1 large (chopped)
  4. Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  5. Black cardamom – 1
  6. Garlic – 1.5 teaspoon (minced)
  7. Ginger – 1 teaspoon (minced)
  8. Tomatoes – 2 (chopped)
  9. Salt – 1.5 teaspoon
  10. Turmeric – 1 teaspoon
  11. Paprika – 1/2 teaspoon
  12. Coriander powder – 2.5 teaspoons
  13. Garam masala – 1/4 teaspoon
  14. Paneer – 300 grams (grated)

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Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a pan. Add black cardamom and cumin seeds. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add chopped onions and minced garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add minced ginger and tomatoes and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4.  Add salt, turmeric, paprika, coriander powder and garam masala. Saute for 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add grated paneer (pressed cheese) to the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Add chopped spinach and cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Serve hot with Indian flat bread.

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I hope you enjoy this variation of palak paneer and I look forward to reading your comments and thoughts on this! Happy Cooking!

 

Tandoori Chicken

I am a big fan of Tandoori chicken. It’s definitely one of my all time favorites! It’s right up next to butter chicken. That’s spoken like a true Punjabi! And I have searched in vain for a restaurant here that serves good Tandoori chicken but have been extremely disappointed. Inspite of the large North Indian population here, I’m yet to find a place that makes tandoori chicken like they make back home in India. This recipe however, makes perhaps the best oven made tandoori chicken you will find in the city. I’m not very modest about my cooking!

Tandoori chicken is said to have originated in erstwhile Punjab, prior to the partition of India and Pakistan. Tandoors go back to way longer though. I remember reading a book (The Twentieth Wife, which by the way is one of my favourites) about Jehangir the Mughal emperor and Noor Jahan. And the book mentioned that tandoors were used to cook food at the Imperial court in Delhi for the emperor. Huh, I am a foodie because I remembered that from the book! So the art or science (whatever you call it) of cooking in a tandoor probably came to India with the Mughals.

History aside, I like the dish because it’s not as rich as most other Indian food. And it has so much flavour! I haven’t met anybody who could resist a plate of this absolutely delicious chicken, orange and crispy – charred on the outside, tender and succulent on the inside. Can you resist this?

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I am drooling already but here’s the recipe for you:

Serves: 3

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. Chicken breasts (Boneless and skinless) – 2 (Each cut in 3 pieces)
  2. Chicken legs (Boneless and skinless) – 4

For the Marinade:

  1. Lemon juice – Juice of about 1/2 a lemon
  2. Salt – 2 teaspoons
  3. Cayenne pepper – 1 teaspoon
  4. Ginger paste – 2 teaspoons
  5. Garlic paste – 2 teaspoons
  6. Yoghurt – 3 tablespoons
  7. Oil – 2 tablespoons
  8. Masala mix – 2 teaspoons (For a milder version add half the mix and save half for later)
  9. Nutmeg – 1/2 teaspoon
  10. Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 tablespoon
  11. Red food color (optional) – A tad bit! (I used the liquid one that I usually use to color cake icing)
  12. Amchur (Dried mango powder) – 1 teaspoon

For the masala mix:

  1. Cloves – 1 teaspoon
  2. Black cardamom – 1
  3. Green cardamom – 1 teaspoon
  4. Coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon
  5. Dried red chillies – 2
  6. Mace – 1/2 teaspoon
  7. Black peppercorn – 1 teaspoon
  8. Carom seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  9. Cinnamon – 1/2 teaspoon
  10. Bay leaves – 1.5

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Instructions:

  1. Make slashes / cuts on the chicken pieces so the marinade can penetrate.
  2. Heat a large pan, add ingredients of the masala mix to the pan and dry roast them for 3 – 4 minutes on low heat. Grind the contents to form a powder.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the ingredients of the marinade, red food coloring and masala mix and rub liberally over the chicken. Let it stand for 3 hours in the fridge
  4. Preheat the oven on broiler set at high for 5 minutes.
  5. Place chicken in the middle rack and let cook for 10 minutes.
  6. After 10 minutes remove tray and flip the chicken pieces on to the other side and place tray on top rack for 7 minutes.
  7. Remove tray and flip chicken pieces. Place tray in the oven on top rack for another 8 minutes. Make sure chicken is cooked through.
  8. Remove the tray and make sure chicken is cooked through.

I used about 700 grams of chicken for the recipe. You could substitute the masala mix with pre made garam masala powder. Although the flavour may not be the same. If you’re not a fan of food coloring use a teaspoon of turmeric instead.

Voilà! Squeeze the juice of a quarter of a lemon, slice up some onions and enjoy your freshly made, hot and delicious tandoori chicken with naan or as is!

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