One day I was driving home from school with my daughter in the backseat. She was kicking her feet and was just jabbering about random topics, but was obviously in a gleeful mood.
We got home, she hopped out of the car and bounded up the steps to the door. She dutifully took off her shoes and hung up her jacket and backpack. Her gibberish was more articulated now and she was sing-songing “I want my choc-o-late chip muffin.” She was definitely in a good mood and I realized that she was very intent and focused on this muffin she was singing about. She grabbed her lunch bag and tossed it on the kitchen table. She clamored up her chair, got on her knees, and unzipped her lunch bag. Her small face was practically buried in her pink lunch bag. Her whole body froze for a split second and then wailed, “WHERE IS MY CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFIN?!”
I had no idea what she was talking about. She slid from her chair and stomped/hopped over to her backpack. Her face was all red and contorted while wailing, “WHERE IS MY CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFIN?!” I asked, “What muffin? What muffin?” And through her snorts and cries, she explained, “Lyla had a birthday and she brought chocolate chip muffins and Missus ‘tagna gave me and Mason a muffin but I had to go to the bathroom and she said that I could take it home and eat it. WHERE IS IT? WHERE DID YOU PUT IT?! WAH!”
This went on for a solid 10 minutes. I could not reason with her and she didn’t want to listen to my excuses. Her muffin was gone.
I felt so horrible. In the flurry of parents and kids at pick-up time, I’m sure the muffin got lost in the shuffle and never made it out of the classroom. That huge bubble of anticipation just burst into nothingness when the muffin was nowhere to be found. Absolute devastation for an almost-3 year old. Through snot and lingering tears, she settled for grapes and graham cracker sticks once she calmed down. Of course there were random outbursts as she sullenly nibbled her snack.
We’ve all been there, right? Hyped-up movies, New Year’s Eve, Romeo turned a**hole date, or a new recipe for your favorite dish just missing the mark (okay, a bit of a stretch…). Since last year, I’ve been on a quest to find or develop recipes for my favorite Indian takeout dishes. One of these dishes is palak paneer. I’ve tried several recipes and being a novice with Indian cuisine , my tweaks were ineffective and resulted in numerous disappointments and lots of waste. Although my letdowns go unmatched with my daughter’s devastation, they were certainly BIG OLE BUMMERS.
A friend of mine recently gave me her recipe for palak paneer which she described as a combination of recipes that she’s tried. I willingly tried it and guess what? I have truly found “the one”.
It is perfectly balanced with its nutty, creamy, and spicy flavors. I have been known to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and once I learned how to make it, I have absolutely no guilt eating it all day.
adapted from a recipe by T. Remaiya
1 medium to large tomato, quartered
4 cloves of garlic
1/2-inch piece of ginger
Cooking oil or ghee
1-2 green chilis (I’ve omitted it, but T. has included it in her recipe)
1 lb. fresh baby spinach (the large box of salad greens works perfectly)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
8-10 oz. paneer, cubed
4 Tablespoon sour cream
1 – In a blender, puree the tomato, ginger, and garlic. Set the mixture aside in a small bowl.
2 – Heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil or ghee in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. (If you’re including green chilis, saute the chilis until fragrant). Add the entire package of spinach and saute until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside the spinach in a blender and puree when cooled.
3 – Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil or ghee in the same skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
4 – Add coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chili powder and saute until fragrant.
5 – Add the tomato mixture, and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
6 – Add the spinach puree, garam masala and salt. Add about 1 cup of water or until you get the desired consistency – you don’t want it to be too thick or thin. Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes on medium low heat.
7 – While the spinach is cooking, heat oil in another skillet. Saute paneer until lightly browned.
8 – Take spinach off the heat, stir in the paneer and sour cream.
For the naan: I took the dough from the batch I made earlier in the week. I took a ball of dough the size of a baseball and with plenty of flour, I formed a ball by tucking the edges in and under. Then on a surface dusted with flour, I rolled out the dough into an 8 to 9-inch diameter circle, 1/4-inch thick. I heated a nonstick skillet over high heat. Make sure the skillet is hot. Once it’s ready, add 1 tablespoon of ghee and lower heat to medium. Throw the circle of dough into the skillet. Cover the pan and brown for about 3 minutes. Uncover and flip until the second side is browned. Serve immediately. The same people at “Artisan Bread”, Jeff and Zoe, also have a delicious recipe for stuffed naan.
I’m also taking part in Indian Food Palooza (#IndianFoodPalooza) this month hosted by Prerna at Indian Simmer, Kathy of The Colors of Indian Cooking, and Barbara of Creative Culinary. Check out what others have cooked!