Originating from North India, this basic vegetarian dish is one of my favourites.
Palak is spinach and Paneer is cream cheese in Hindi.
It is basically a thick spinach puree seasoned with garlic, chilli, ginger, onion and spices.
The cream cheese is usually set and cut into 15mm cubes. I have had it where the cheese has been sautéed, but I think I prefer the soft, creamy cheese cubes. It is easy to make the cheese by simply adding lemon juice to warmed whole milk and draining the curd, but it takes time and a fairly large volume of milk. Being able to buy ready-made Paneer suits me perfectly!
Optional ingredients are tomato and yoghurt or cream. The yogurt or cream will mellow any bitterness that yu at times get from the spinach. Vegans can add Tofu instead of the palak and substitute the cream or yoghurt with a nut version.
You can blanch the spinach in a pan of water, but I find 3 minutes in the microwave just wilts it, the water that remains becomes part of the sauce and the beautiful green flavour is retained.
This spinach sauce is easy to prepare and the flavours mature if made a day or two in advance.
The same spinach sauce can be used with seafood or chicken. It also makes a lovely egg dish, where I exclude the palak (cheese) add a poached egg on the sauce and top it with avo mayonnaise (recipe here) to create a stunning dish! A rasher or two of bacon or crisp pancetta takes the dish to another level! Fusion of East meets West at its finest! If you add 5ml turmeric powder or a few slices of fresh turmeric root to the egg poaching liquid, the eggs will have an exotic yellow colour. It does not alter the flavour but it sounds & looks good!
I haven’t frozen the sauce, but I see no reason why it will not freeze, but you will lose the lovely bright green colour.