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unemployed indian food feast and palak paneer recipe (spinach with cheese)

June 17, 2009

Being unemployed certainly affords me all the time in the world to write, try new recipes, take the afternoon nap, buy new food, cook, lay around the apartment, mingle with the neighborhood watchdog Too Tone Perez, and share tales with folk in the same situation. With New York City being the epicenter of the unemployment universe, nearly half of my friends are sans job and with more time on their hands than is considered healthy. Case in point: with an equal affinity for food awesomeness (and also unemployed), my friend D. and I decided to spend the better half of yesterday afternoon/night seeking out ingredients and cooking our own little Indian food feast.

Just a few miles in distance but seemingly continents away, we found ourselves scavenging around in the heart of India Square, Jersey City with more than a language barrier separating us from the masses. Figuring the friendly, neighborhood Subzi Mandy Cash and Carry (read: Indian grocery store) was a sure bet we found ourselves leaving $30 poorer, quite fragrant, and weighed down by a 45+ lb. bounty of whole spices, produce, and the like.

Indian Food Bounty

Indian Food Bounty

One wrong train ride and a close to a broken bladder later we were finally back at the apartment getting to work on the feast –D. making the fragrant, sweet rice and chicken masala and yours truly working on the palak paneer and Pav Bhaji masala, a spicy, light Mumbai curry and vegetable dish. The air quickly became potent, spicy, yellow, and thick –foreshadowing a truly delicious, authentic, awesome meal and experience.

Recipe for palak paneer after the photos.

Leg work

Leg work

Dinner, at last.

Dinner, at last.

Close up of the Pav Bhaji masala

Close up of the Pav Bhaji masala -curry and vegetable dish

Success

Success

Dessert -a belgian white beer homebrew to help cool the spice

Dessert -a belgian white beer homebrew to help cool the spice

Palak paneer, a vegetarian spinach curry with cheese, is a staple at any Indian restaurant/buffet. Try mine on for size –me, innocently enough, thinks it’s the best I’ve had to date.

Ingredients, spinach:
10 ozs. fresh or frozen spinach
1 diced jalapeño. Remove the seeds and ribs if you can’t take the heat.
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
A half inch nub of fresh ginger, finely minced
A small handful of cilantro, finely minced
Butter
One tsp of whole cumin*
Half a tsp of coriander*
5 black peppercorns*
5 allspice berries*
A half inch piece of cinnamon stick*
Half a tsp of madras curry powder (the yellow stuff you have in your cabinet)
Half a tsp of cayenne powder (optional)
Salt to taste

*NOTE: If you don’t have the whole stuff fret not –used the pre-ground stuff and substitute accordingly.

Ingredients, cheese:
Whole milk
Juice of one lemon
And old, clean t-shirt. You most certainly have one with your company logo on it. Use this.

Directions, spinach:
Add a TBS of butter to a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once melted add the jalapeno and spinach and season with salt. Cook until spinach is melted/wilted, depending on whether you are using frozen or fresh.

Add spinach to a blender and add a half cup of water. Pulse until you’re left with a spinach paste, and put aside.

In the same skillet, add a TBS of butter and the diced onion. Season with salt.

While the onions cook, add all the spices (cumin, coriander, peppercorns, allspice, cinnamon, curry, and cayenne) to a spice grinder and pulse until a powder. If using pre-ground spices just mix to combine.

After cooking for 10 minutes (or until brown), move the onions to one side of the skillet. On the newly bare side add a TBS of butter and two-thirds of the spice mixture (see above). After frying the spices in the butter for a minute, mix into onions and let cook for 2 minutes.

Add the finely diced cilantro, garlic, and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the blended spinach to the pan, mix, and cook for 15 minutes. NOTE: if the dish becomes dry add water.

Palak Paneer in the buff

Palak Paneer in the buff

After 15 minutes add a TBS of butter and taste for seasoning (salt and the spice mixture). Adjust accordingly.

Directions, cheese:
Add the milk to a pot over medium heat.

When just about boiling shut the heat, add the lemon juice, and stir for a minute. You’ll see the milk immediately separate.

Once cooled strain what was formerly milk through your company’s t-shirt, squeezing as much water out as you can.

What’s left in the shirt is cheese –mold into a brick of sorts and refrigerate for an hour. After an hour cut into cubes and gently incorporate, in whole form, into the spinach.

Serve with:
Naan (Indian bread), rice, Chivas, Johnnie Walker, Dewars, Taj Mahal Beer, Kingfisher, and some of Bollywood’s finest flicks.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2009 7:45 pm

    Looks great, and I love your instructions (unpretentious, very accessible, easy to follow and uncomplicated) and inline commentary (“Once cooled strain what was formerly milk through your company’s t-shirt, squeezing as much water out as you can.”)

    Keep up the good work… loving it here in Portland.

  2. June 17, 2009 10:44 pm

    I’m a sucker for Indian grocery stores, good food, and homebrew–your unemployment definitely beats my bout earlier this year!

  3. that brown girl permalink
    June 19, 2009 3:56 am

    Palak paneer looks great! Congrats on the cooking – and what a great use of your time!

  4. June 22, 2009 12:21 am

    Vegetables are an integral part of our food and we consume them in a number of ways. For pure vegetarians India is a heaven. India can boast for its innumerable varieties of tasty and nutritious vegetarian dishes. In India, more people are vegetarians than anywhere else in this planet. Some of the famous indian recipes are Navratan Korma and Shahi Paneer.

    http://www.indiabite.com

  5. March 9, 2011 7:44 am

    Tabla Bar & Grill welcomes you to embark on a culinary journey as you enjoy the ultimate dining experience, including food, wine, and liquor.

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