For making paneer
For the actual recipe
NOTE: If you can buy paneer, you can skip the first step of making the paneer
Let’s make paneer.
Take the milk in a large pan and turn the heat on medium high. With a spatula stir occasionally so the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom. Bring it to a boil and then turn the heat off. Mix 2 tbsp vinegar with 2 tbsp water and pour it slowly in to the milk. It will start curdling immediately. Stir softly. Soon the solid will separate from the whey. The whey should be clear yellowish / greenish (I still don’t know what the name of this color is) and not milky. Now place a colander into the sink and lay the cotton cloth on the colander. Pour the paneer on the cloth and drain the whey (you can also saved it to use later in soup etc.). Wash the paneer with cold water and squeeze it. Now, in a flat surface place the paneer along with the cloth under it and try to give it some shape, preferably a cuboid with 1/2 inch height. Use the ends of the cloth to cover up the paneer. Time to find some heavy object like a cast iron pan or a gallon of water and place it on top of the paneer! Let it be for an hour. Then remove the heavy object and remove the paneer from the cloth. You will see a nice chunk of paneer. Cut it in cubes. TIP: take a fork and poke the paneer in various places. This will allow the gravy to seep in and enhance the taste
Now let’s make palak paneer.
In a large pan, take 4 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Add spinach and cook for just one minute. Quickly take out all the spinach leaves and put them in ice cold water. Let them be there for 2 minutes (this blanching process will help keep the nice green color of the leaves). Now squeeze lightly and add the leaves in a blender / mixer. Make a smooth purée by adding 1/4 cup of water in the blender / mixer. Take a pan and turn on the heat to medium. Add oil and warm it up. Now add cumin seeds and let them crack. Then add onion and fry till they are translucent. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes to overcome their raw smell. Now add tomato and chili and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes to soften them. Time to add all the dry spices: turmeric, cumin powder, and salt. Cook for 2 minutes and add the spinach purée. Mix everything well and add 2 tbs water (if needed) and the paneer pieces (don’t worry, they won’t break). Let them cook together till you get a thick gravy. Now crush the dry fenugreek leaves with the help of your two palms and mix them in the gravy. Add cream and turn off the heat. Give it a soft mix and drizzle ghee or butter.
Enjoy with Naan, Paratha, Ruti, or Jeera Rice!
NOTE: Palak paneer can be made vegan by substituting paneer with tofu and using cashew cream or coconut cream. Ghee or butter is optional.