Indian: Palek Paneer

I’ve always said that when you cook a recipe for the first time you shouldn’t improvise.  You should stick to what’s written and then, if all goes well, you can tizzy it up or adjust the recipe to your liking next time.  Now you would think I would listen to my own advice.  I know I have certainly preached this to Bells over the years (Bells was always improvising on the first try of a recipe in our youth – often with very “interesting” results).

So with this in mind I cooked a lovely Indian dish called Palek Paneer.  The first red flag concerning this dish came last Sunday afternoon when I was discussing with my Indian friend about how I was preparing to cook it that evening.  “How will you cook it?” she asked me.  “Oh I can’t remember,” I said. “I read the recipe earlier in the week and I recall thinking that it looked easy enough”.  She pressed me for more information and gasped when I said I was using frozen spinach.  “It’ll be fine”, I assured her…

Let me just say – there was nothing wrong with using frozen spinach with this dish.  It gave the same effect as the fresh spinach and it cut out a step or two in the process.  The error I made was not pureeing the spinach as stated in the recipe.  I figured since the spinach was chopped that it was fine enough and it wasn’t necessary to puree it.  WRONG!

I was so proud of myself for attempting this dish.  I had never eaten Paneer before (it’s like cottage cheese with the texture of tofu  – sounds delightful doesn’t it!!).  I trotted off to my local Indian Supermarket and bought fresh Paneer.  I do love going to these speciality grocery stores with loads of gorgeous foreign ingredients.  The smell of all the spices and the new possibilities are both enticing and overwhelming.  I must take along one of my Indian friends one day to explain what everything is (come to think of it – some cooking lessons wouldn’t go astray as well).

Anyway – I cooked this dish for my gorgeous husband who is very pateint and kind when it comes to my cooking adventures.  He assured me as I started writing this post that it didn’t taste that bad.  I tend to agree with him.  The flavours were fine, it was just the texture that was questionable.  Mind you, the Paneer was quite disappointing.  It’s quite bland with its flavour.  I imagine that it’s the kind of cheese that needs lots of interesting ingredients surrounding to really bring out its best.  It would probably be wonderful in a curry perhaps or something of equal flavour intensity.

Would you believe I really did enjoy cooking this dish?  The reason being that I was able to cook it in my own time and in peace.  Hubby and I had just dropped our son off at his Grandparents for a few days so the house was quiet and I was able to cook without interuptions and without feeling the need to get dinner on the table within any set amount of time.  As a mum this was a simple pleasure.  Some might say I should have ordered take-away and put my feet up (this did happened, I assure you).  But one way I relax is to cook.  I feel I unwind this way and I lose myself in the experience.  So to be able to do this without anyone expecting anything from me is just so nice.

You may have noticed that I have strayed a few times from Bells and my original idea of cooking only from the Food Safari cookbook.  Although we will still use this book as our primary source of recipes for this blog – we will also bring to you recipes we love from other cookbooks or magazines we read.  I love Bundt tins and I am dying to blog about them – so stay tuned for that…



9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bellsknits
    Jul 09, 2010 @ 21:25:00

    I’ve had paneer in a restaurant before and loved it, but it was with a rich tomato sauce. I think I might have had this version but it’s a distant memory. Also, I’ve found the trick with froze spinach is to let it drain for quite a while too. It gives a better, less watery consistency.

    I probably wouldn’t have got take away either. Cooking at a relaxed pace is a treat, not having to rush to get stuff on the table.

    Love the new background too. Good choice.


  2. 2paw
    Jul 09, 2010 @ 21:52:30

    I always thought paneer would be more tasty. Still, I suppose it is the cheese equivalent of a raita.
    Your Indian feast looks delicious and I feel you should veer from your book course as much as you want to!!


  3. Mum
    Jul 10, 2010 @ 11:21:48

    All your cooking looks absolutely lovely Adele. Maybe you can starting thinking about cooking something special for when you come down late September. Dad and I will really look forward to that. Love Mum xox


  4. David Hilyard
    Jul 10, 2010 @ 17:45:25

    I know what you mean about cooking to unwind. As long as you got something out of the process, the result is secondary.

    But this sounds good. I have had this a bunch at Indian restaurants, and will try it again.

    And snap! about blogging Indian recipes!


  5. Rose Red
    Jul 10, 2010 @ 19:54:44

    Specialty food stores scare me a bit – which is dumb – I must get over myself!

    Like the new blog background – suits the blog well.


  6. vivzilla
    Jul 11, 2010 @ 00:53:03

    palak paneer is one of my favourite things to order when I get indian. Im glad to see your attempt at making it.


  7. drkknits
    Jul 12, 2010 @ 08:56:43

    oh i love a good indian grocery! all those yummy spicy chutneys!! i would like to give this one a go, so your tips are very useful. looking forward to finding out about bundt tins too (im going to go google them cos i have no idea what they are!).


  8. Jacquiline Anecelle
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 19:39:23

    Found out your site via live search the other day and absolutely love it. Carry on this fantastic work.


    • Delly
      Aug 31, 2010 @ 11:23:20

      Hi there! Thanks for your lovely comment. Glad you managed to find us. I hope you’ll return to read more in the future.


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