Friday, May 13, 2011

Palak Paneer

The spices in here are very mild but have a rich aroma. The texture is smooth and velvet like. It is a very healthy dish with protein, iron and calcium. The lemon juice used in this recipe helps to retain the green color of the dish and also acts as a digestive agent.

450 gms - Spinach, washed
20ozs. - Two 9 ozs. Packets
400gms - Paneer
2 tbsp - Vegetable Oil
1 tsp - Cumin Seeds
2 tbsp - Ghee
2 cloves - Garlic, chopped
1 medium - Onion, chopped
1” - Ginger, finely julienned
4 pods - Cardamom, crushed
½ cup - Low fat Yogurt
½ tsp - Turmeric Powder
1 tbsp - Coriander Powder
1 ½ tsp - Salt
½ tsp - Black Salt, optional
1 tsp - Garam Masala
4 tbsp - Milk
1 tbsp - Lemon Juice

Heat 4 cups of water in a stockpot. Add the washed spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes. Strain and run through cold water for just a few minutes, in order to stop further cooking. Grind it in a blender. Set aside. In a saute pan, heat the vegetable oil. Wash the paneer and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the whole cube in the pan and fry it on all sides till it is a little brown in color. Let it cool on a chopping board for 5 minutes and cut it into small cubes. Quick frying paneer in whole or large cubes saves time and also gives it a crisp edge.

In a large saute pan, heat ghee and add cumin seeds. Let them crackle for 30 seconds. Now add the chopped garlic, ginger and onions.

Cook till the onion starts to sweat. They should look translucent and should not turn brown. Add crushed cardamom and cook for 1 minute and then combine yogurt. While yogurt is cooking, add turmeric, coriander powder, salt and black salt.

To get a smooth spinach paste, you can add some of the water that was used to boil the spinach while using the blender.

Let the oil separate from the mixture, and add the pureed spinach and simmer for 5 minutes. Add paneer cubes and cook them for 5 more minutes. Now add garam masala and milk. Simmer for 2 minutes and then add lemon juice. Mix well and serve it with jeera rice or naan.

Jeera Rice

This dish uses Basmati the long grain variety which is considered to be the king of rice. Grown in northern states of India near the foothills of the Himalayas, it is known for its fine fragrance and delicate taste.

2 cups - Basmati Rice
4 ½ cups - Water
1 tbsp - Ghee
2 tsp - Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
4 Pods - Cardamom, slightly crushed
2 - Cinnamon Sticks
1 ½ tsp - Salt

Soak the rice for ½ an hour and wash it 3 to 4 times till water runs clear. Heat a large and wide saute pan and add ghee to it. When hot, add cumin seeds, crushed cardamom, and cinnamon sticks. Let it cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The addition of cumin seeds, cardamom, and cinnamon enhances the flavor of rice giving it a distinct aroma and taste. Add the rice and saute it for 2-3 minutes. Now put the 4 ½ cups of water in the pan and cook it open for 10 minutes. Stir it a couple of times. Water will come to a slow boil while the rice cooks.

Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and sprinkle some drops of water and cover it again.

Cook for 2 more minutes and remove from the heat. Let it stand covered for 5 minutes. Serve with curries and other gravy dishes along with yogurt.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mango Lassi

This is one of the most popular drinks that is ordered in Indian restaurants in America.  It is simple to make and can be made ahead of time. I prefer alphonso mango pulp, which is easily available in Indian grocery stores.

2 cups - Low Fat Yogurt
½ cup - Low Fat Milk
½ cup - Water
1 cup - Crushed Ice
2 cups - Mango Pulp
4 pods - Cardamom Seeds crushed.
1 - Fresh Mango (optional)

To enhance the flavor of mango and to make the taste brighter on the palate, we have added cardamom to this recipe.

Take about 4 pods of cardamom seeds. Put them in a mortar and crush them well with a pestle. Unlike when using cardamom in main dishes, here we do not add the shells of the pods, but only the seeds. 

Using a mortar and pestle gives the seeds a semi powder texture and a better flavor, as opposed to using a grinder.

Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix well. To serve you can either pour it straight into a glass and enjoy, or you can use some of the pulp to glaze the insides of the glass and then add the lassi, giving it a more exotic look.