The grocery store in my community, I am so grateful. They have been working crazy hard, in this situation to keep all the essentials available for the community people. And the security personnel have been diligently monitoring the number of people entering the store at a time, the distance between two persons in and around the store; and not to be forgotten at all, also monitoring the latest mandate fashion prop, that all the people visiting the store must be wearing a mask.
Vegetables are the essentials and I had to manage my myself with all the mandate latest fashion prop, to go to the store and get the essentials.
Spinach (aka ‘Palak’ in Hindi) was definitely not on my mind. I never cooked Palak; sigh! But, out of the very few vegetables that were available, I had the luxury to spot the most fresh, centre of attraction, ‘the Palak’. Luxury, you know, it does give you a call, specially when you can afford it in all possibilities. Well, how will you do justice to that luxury? – “you will get to learn”, that’s what my heart said. That fresh bunch of Palak, well two bunches of Palak went into my grocery bag, as I left the store.
So here’s the very ‘choosy’ nature of mine; ‘choosy’ – not a very favourite word of yours? Trust me, it’s all about balancing. Being choosy at one time, and being accommodative on another. Well, let’s not get deviated, and coming back to Palak. So, at one place, I have never cooked palak and at another, the only dish of palak I love most is Palak Paneer. Once again, deep sigh! And then the creative goddess sends that angelic spark of confidence, “you can do it”. I already had Paneer (for some ‘cottage cheese’), in my refrigerator. Good, one check.
Rest all are the basic ingredients. It’s just now the cooking tools; you know, like those non-stick pan, some stirring handles, mixer-grinder… Now, I don’t have a mixer-grinder nor a pressure cooker. The one thing I was assured about Palak paneer is, you need to grind the palak in grinder. That’s what I saw my cook in Hyderabad used to do for Palak Paneer. Deep deep sigh!!
Once again, the creative goddess sends another angelic spark of confidence, “you can do it”. Yes, it’s like you seek the blessings and you get it and accept it and then you have to act upon it.
And what happens then, is another aesthetic to be cherished. A must mention, I had no thought of penning down about all this, until I had just chopped my fresh bunch of Palak. I have never taken pics in the process of cooking; might be that’s also because I never thought that I would ever pen down a recipe. So, is it recipe of Palak Paneer? – not at all. This is not the recipe of Palak Paneer.
What I thought was, if this turns out good enough that I might feel , “wish I had someone here to serve this art delicacy”, I would love to pen down.
a. Chop the spinach real fine.
b. Keep it for boiling along with chopped garlic and salt, turmeric and red-chilli powder (to taste)
c. After half way through boiling, add some chopped tomatoes.
d. I discovered that I had some fresh peas in refrigerator, that might get rotten, if I just let it be longer; so I added those fresh peas into the boiling palak.
e. On the side, kept an onion finely chopped.
f. Once it is boiled to the extent that you can mash it easily, you can switch off that.
g. In a separate fry pan, added some Mustard oil and Ghee (saturated butter).
h. Once well heated, add some cumin seeds and then the chopped onions. After few mins, add some garlic paste.
i. As the onion is half way done, add green chilli and some more chopped tomatoes. Add some more salt, turmeric, red-chilli powder and coriander powder (to taste). Mix it well, add some water, put a lid and let it cook for few mins.
j. Now after few mins, as the aroma of the spices and the garlic and onions starts relishing you; add the boiled spinach (palak) to the mix. (I didn’t strain the water)
k. Now let it cook on medium heat for almost 20-25 mins, covered with lid.
l. I kept the paneer sliced in small cubes. I chose not to fry them.
m. As you start seeing the oil and the spices start floating on top and at the rim, add the fresh sliced paneer cubes.
n. Now let it cook for another 20-25 mins, covered with lid. After that, just switch off the gas and let it be covered with lid for some more mins.
P.S. I cannot pen down the quantities. I always cook as per my guessing. It does turn out well. Believe in your instincts of cooking skills. You can always do it, when you love doing it. Just do it with love.
So, what was all of the above? – isn’t this a recipe. No, this is not the the recipe for Palak Paneer.
This has been the recipe for the Empowered Palak Paneer, and as it turned out really well, it decided to stay in my culinary diaries and in this blog and hopefully sometime soon, I will be able to serve someone with this fine creation.
Why do I call this ‘Empowered’? – you know, empowered is when something get it’s own power, own confidence. This way of cooking to satisfy my love for palak paneer, has not only added that extra boost of confidence to my culinary skills but it also, empowered itself, to be loved for it’s own taste, the way it has been cooked and not in the standard traditional the well-known and the famous palak paneer.
Note: “that Mustard Oil is the touch of my soul; the Bengali soul in me.” 😉