I always keep frozen chopped spinach, paneer and roti in my freezer to make this special meal whenever we are craving it or having company over for dinner. It's an amazing dish to make and only needs 4 fresh ingredients which are usually staples in my house: onion, garlic, ginger and yogurt.
Of course, you know how much I'm obsessed with spices. I learned a homemade recipe for Garam Masala from my dear friend and auntie, Josie, which elevates this dish to the next level, so make sure to download it below!
The main recipe was adapted from Aarti Sequeira's recipe on the Food Network.
Ingredients for the crispy paneer:
Serve with Basmati rice or Naan.
- In a bowl, mix together turmeric, cayenne, salt & grapeseed oil
- Cube paneer, and mix with the spice mixture - be sure to be gentle as the paneer can break apart easily. Put aside to marinade.
- Thaw frozen spinach in the microwave for 3-5 minutes on high. When defrosted, use a colander to strain excess liquid. Reserve liquid.
- Meanwhile, using a nonstick pan, chop the onion & leek and saute in 1.5 tbsp of oil on medium low temp. Alternate between mixing it and covering it, so that the steam can assist with this process of caramelization, and the mixing will make sure it doesn't stick. Lower the temperature if it does start to cook too quickly without allowing those flavours to build. Add a splash of water if it starts to stick/burn, and allow the liquid to integrate back into the mixture. This step takes the longest (about 10-15 minutes). It's the most important step! If you do not care for this caramelization process, the curry will taste bland.
- If you prefer the spinach pureed, you could put in the food process or chop it finely; personally, I prefer it as is chopped from the package for the texture.
- Separately, using another nonstick skillet, heat up over medium heat, and add paneer to the pan as it warms up. When a crust forms and it becomes golden brown, toss the paneer and make sure to be gentle! Fry on each side until each side is browned.
- Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb extra oil.
- Finely chop ginger, garlic, and chile and add to the onion mixture.
- Add the garam masala, coriander and cumin to pan as well.
- Stir this mixture often, and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture starts to come together and smelling "more melodius" as Aarti describes it. (Couldn't think of a better way to say this!)
- Add the spinach and stir well to integrate all the ingredients together
- Add 1/2 cup of the reserved spinach liquid (or water), and season with salt to taste. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes with the lid off.
- Remove pan off the heat.
- Add the 1/2 cup of yogurt, 1 tbsp at a time to prevent it from curdling and ruining your hard work!
- Once the yogurt is mixed well, add the paneer to the dish, and serve with rice, roti or naan.