For this delicious North Indian Spinach Sauce you need
300g spinach, if you are using Swiss Chard, weigh after the leaves are stripped from the spine
3-5 cloves garlic (depending on size)
About 5cm root ginger
2-3 chillies, de-seeded
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
25ml canola oil
7ml garam masala (basic curry paste or powder)
3ml cumin seeds
2ml ground cumin
2 tomatoes cut into small cubes (optional)
Lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste
Optional 50ml cream, sour cream or thick yoghurt
I block Paneer, allowing 60- 80g per serving
Rinse the spinach thoroughly and place it in a microwaveable bowl. Cover with cling wrap and microwave on full power for 3 minutes. Allow it to cool slightly.
Place the garlic, ginger, chillies and spinach, with any water that may have drained from the spinach into a blender or food processor and puree to a fine consistency. If it is too thick add a little water to dilute to a thick creamy consistency. It must not be watery.
Heat the oil, add the onions and the dry spices and lightly fry until the onion becomes glassy and the spices are cooked. You may add the tomatoes at this stage, but Ii prefer adding them later as I like the fresh texture that they add.
Add the spinach mixture and allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the cream or yoghurt, taste and adjust the seasoning with a dash of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Just before serving, stir in the tomatoes and cubes of cheese and heat thoroughly
Serve hot with rice and or a flat bread such as a roti.
The basic sauce, without the raw tomatoes keeps for at least 3 days in the fridge.
Hint: Before you add the cheese, heat it in the microwave for a few seconds or dip the sealed pack in hot water to soften. It is easy to make your own Paneer, but you use a large volume of milk, so I find the bought version more convenient.
Serving suggestion: Spoon the sauce, without the cheese into a small bowl and top with a poached egg, a delicious light meal
Panner is the Hindi word for Cream Cheese and Palak is Spinach!