This is a very popular indian dish that I discovered last year. As much as I love this dish when I first had it, I have only had it twice at the same place. Since I rarely cook Indian food, I thought it would be interesting to take on the challenge of recreating the flavor.
There are many Palak Paneer recipes on the internet, they range from very complex to mildly complex. I picked a recipe which is pretty easy to follow.
Fennel Seeds and cloves
Here I copied the recipe from the website:
1 pound fresh green spinach
8 oz packet of paneer cut into cubes (I did not use this)
1 cup red chopped onion (1 onion)
1 cup tomato pureed (3 large tomatoes)
3-4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 inch ginger
2-3 thai green chili (I did not use this)
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
3 tbsp olive oil/cooking oil (I used regular peanut oil)
Coriander and curry powder
1. Blanch the spinach for 30 seconds, remove from the pot and drain off excess water.
2. Instead of using a blender, I chopped the blanched spinach.
3. Cook the onion, ginger and garlic for 1 minute.
4. Add the coriander, curry powder, fennel seeds, and cloves.
5. Mix all together and cook for a minute.
6. Add the pureed tomato and cook for 2 minutes.
7. Add the chopped spinach.
8. At this point, the tomato will release all its juice. Turn the heat to medium and slowly cook the juice down to a thick paste.
9. Add the cream into the mixture. The amount is entirely up to you.
There is no good way to photograph palak paneer since it is a meshed up spinach in cream color. Not pretty, so I added sliced tomatoes to add color to the composition.
In terms of recreating the flavor, I think I was 70% close to what was looking for. The flavors of the curry powder, coriander powder, fennel and clove is bold and intense. This intensity is balanced by the spinach and the tomatoes. Since I added the cream little by little, I was able to control how heavy I want the dish to be. Overall, I am very happy with what I made and it is definitely something to keep in my arsenal of recipes.