I know. It’s laced with butter. But it’s also laced with spinach. Surely the benefits of the spinach cancel out the drawbacks of the butter. (And doesn’t butter contain vitamin A? Or something like that? :lalala:)
(click on image for larger view and more photos)
I didn’t used to like spinach. Oh my no. When I was a kid, watching Popeye, I knew that it was just a bunch of propaganda and that spinach (canned or not) was revolting. Then as an adult, I relented and decided that uncooked spinach for salads was tolerable. Just.
And then I met my future husband. Who took me to an Indian restaurant and insisted on ordering palak paneer. Against my better judgement, I agreed. Because I had to be polite.
Oh my, oh my!! I was in love!! And not just with this amazing man who got me to eat spinach without me having to hold my nose, squeeze my eyes shut and hope I wouldn’t gag. In fact, I was almost immediately arguing over who would get to have the bigger portion of spinach.
Yes, indeed, I adore palak paneer. (Did I already say that once or twice?) I think T’s latest batch of palak paneer was the best ever. He really caramelized the onions so they were quite dark brown, giving a hint of burnt sugar.
I love that palak paneer can be made well in advance. It can even be made a day before serving and is just as wonderful.
Instead, we wash the spinach well and let it drain in a colander. And sprinkle it with salt. Then toss to mix and set aside to drain for about half an hour. Then we rinse (to get rid of all the extra salt) and hand-squeeze the spinach til it is quite dry. The juice is discarded. We let it rest in colander for a few more minutes. Then we (when I say “we”, of course I mean “he”) squeeze again – 3 or 4 times in total. And taste to be sure there’s no excessive salt.
While this method is very likely never used in India, we prefer it to the more traditional blanching and squeezing out the spinach for three reasons:
- It is MUCH easier to squeeze room temperature salted spinach.
- There is one less pot to wash.
- In the finished dish, the spinach retains its wonderful emerald colour.
Here is the rest of our recipe:
We always serve with palak paneer with naan. This most recent time we had palak paneer, we also had chole (chickpeas) and red cabbage raita (at least I’m guessing I can call it that – I made it with shredded red cabbage, onion, cumin seed, garam masala and yoghurt.)
Remind me to ask T exactly what he did to make the chole.
- Indian vegetable recipes
- Flatbread recipes (including naan)
- Indian chicken recipes
- recipes from OUR kitchen – index
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
It is possible to grow ginger in the garden. Ginger is a rhyzome and all you have to do is plant one of the knobby parts from store-bought ginger in good soil that gets lots of sun. Ginger likes to be kept watered but otherwise just needs to be left alone. Here, this far north, it doesn’t produce the biggest root but it is still fun to grow it. The leaves offer a quite attractive backdrop for other low-lying plants.
Apparently, the ginger leaf (aka daun cekur) can also be used for flavouring and is used in some dishes in Southeast Asia.
In The Harrowsmith Illustrated Book of Herbs, Patrick Lima (who lives in London, Ontario) gives the following advice about growing ginger:
Plant the roots horizontally, one per pot just under the soil surface in a foot-wide container filled with a nourishing soil mix […] Keep the soil damp. […] It will become about 3 feet tall with glossyy, dark green alternate leaves. In about six months, dig down […] cut off some for the kitchen, and replant the remainder.
Like bay, ginger can spend the summers outdoors, provided it can first adapt to brighter light with a period of rest in the shade. However, it will grow perfectly well without ever seeing the outdoors; even an eastern or western window will keep it green and growing. Fertilize it throughout spring and summer.
Please read more about ginger:
- wikipedia – ginger
- Gernot Katzer’s Spice pages – ginger
- The Cook’s Thesaurus – ginger
- Plants Free for Life – propagating and growing ginger (plants-free-for-life.com/ginger.html)
- Doug Green’s Garden – growing ginger in the north (was at douggreensgarden.com/ginger.html)
WHB is on the road again and this week’s host is Laurie (Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska). The deadline for entering WHB#131 is Sunday 11 May 2008 at 15:00, Utah time (GMT-7). For complete details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging, please see the following: