Sunday, July 20, 2014

Palak Paneer, Pulao, and Roti

Indian food. I love Indian food so much. In fact, being a vegetarian would be a lot easier if I were to just eat Indian food every day. However, sometimes I get in the mood for other types of foods, so...yeah. I'll eat more Indian food and just reduce my meat consumption instead ;). I think that's a fair compromise for now...

I'm still in Lisbon and was craving Indian food and decided to make things for harder and more expensive for myself make paneer for Palak Paneer for my friends and me. I had never made paneer before, but I've made mascarpone, which is a similar process. I made one batch of paneer with whole milk and another with a milk with less fat (called meio gordo here). The paneer with whole milk was less crumbly, but both had similar textures and were fine. Next time, I plan to add a bit of salt and masala/spices to the paneer before allowing them to set.
LEFT: paneer with less fat/meio gordo. RIGHT: paneer with whole milk (gordo)

Next, I prepared the roti dough, which is much easier and quicker to make than naan dough because it contains no yeast. Roti is almost like a flour tortilla; they contain similar ingredients (I know some Mexicans who make flour tortillas with oil instead of shortening). I allowed the covered roti dough to rest while I prepared the pulao/pilaf and palak paneer.
Roti: Packed and ready to be delivered to my friends...
The sauce for the palak paneer was pretty easy to put together. Just be sure to have all of your ingredients out and ready, which is the rule for the preparation of all Indian dishes. You should also puree your tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilis, etc. before working on this dish. 
I love the love the bright green color from the spinach! I wish I had placed the paneer in the fridge for 30-60 minutes instead of allowing it to set out on the counter. I think it would have been a bit firmer that way. Make sure your paneer is firm before using it in the dish. Also, the paneer itself is bland and soft. If you'd like a paneer with more flavor, add a little bit of salt or spices.
The day I made this dish, I was to meet my roommates at the outdoor theatre. So, I packed up the meal to deliver it to them (I had eaten my own plateful beforehand). Unfortunately, I could not find them, and we weren't able to contact each other on our cellphones. However, once they returned home, they devoured this dish and said that it was delicious! I agree wholeheartedly!
The rice dish came from Pioneer Woman's website! I love this rice recipe; it is my go-to for Indian-inspired rice.
Funny story: When my friend started eating this dish, I asked her, "How is the paneer?" and she grabbed the roti saying, "Oh! I haven't tried it yet!" haha. In Romance languages, the word for "bread" is similar to the word "paneer", so she thought I was referring to the roti, not to the Indian cheese :).
from various sources but here's a video: (
  • 1 liter of whole or 2% milk (whole milk yields a creamier cheese but both are good)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt, or curd
  1. Have ready a cheesecloth, muslin cloth, or clean tea towel over a heat-resistent bowl. 
  2. Stir and heat the milk until it comes to low simmer (do not boil!). 
  3. Add in the acid component of your choice until the milk and whey form. 
  4. Immediately pour the milk/whey mixture into the cheesecloth-lined bowl. 
  5. Then transfer the cloth (with paneer inside) to another container (I used the pot I used to heat the milk) and rinse the paneer with the cloth open to remove the lemon or vinegar taste and to cool down the cheese. 
  6. Squeeze out excess liquid. (If you'd like to add salt or spices like garam masala, this would be the time.) 
  7. Next, close up the cheesecloth, put it on a plate or shallow bowl and place something heavy atop the wrapped cheese. 
  8. Allow it to sit on the counter or refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. I suggest letting it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour for it to be ready for the Palak Paneer or any other curry.Storage: I've read that it can be stored in the fridge overnight, but I've never tried it.
Pulao (pilaf with peas)
  • 2 cups Basmati rice (I used brown rice)
  • 2-4 Tbsp butter 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric powder
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1/2 - 1 cup of frozen green peas
  1. To a rice cooker add all of the ingredients then cook the rice in the cooker. 
  2. If you do not have a rice cooker, boil the cold water, turmeric, butter, and salt. Then add in the rice once the mixture has started boiling. Cover and allow to cook according to the packaging. Once the rice is done, throw in some frozen peas, stir, and allow the heat of the rice to cook the peas.
Roti (Indian flatbread)
  • 125 grams (1 cup) of wheat flour (I used AP flour/tipo 55)
  • 1/2 cup hot water (I've seen this made with warm water as well)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp of oil (I used veg oil)
  1. Place flour and salt into a big bowl. Then add the oil. Mix the mixture together and add warm/hot water a little bit at a time (I did not use all of the 1/2 cup of water)
  2. Use your hand to pour warm water to the flour (I did not use all of the 1/2 cup of water) and knead with the right hand. Do not pour too much water at once; mix flour properly.
  3. Press the dough and turn it over several times with your right hand for about 4-5 minutes.  When the dough seems uniformed and smooth, sprinkle 2-3 tsp water on it, then cover and keep aside for 20-25 minutes (I left it in the bowl for an hour because I was preparing the other dishes.).

Palak Paneer Recipe

  • 500 grams of fresh spinach
  • 200 grams of paneer, in cubes
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  •  1tsp of cumin seeds
  • 2 tsps of kasuri methi
  • 2-3 large tomatoes/5 small tomatoes
  • 2 to 3 chili peppers or jalapeños or 1/2 of one green pepper
  • 1 inch of ginger
  • 2 tablespoon of cream (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp salt or to taste

  1. Remove the stems of spinach. Wash the spinach well and put them in a bowl . Pour the 1/4 cup of water into the bowl and heat it. The spinach will take 5 to 6 minutes to boil.
  2. Grind the onions and garlic finely and set aside
  3. Grind the tomato, green chilly and ginger in the grinder finely and set aside.
  4. Heat oil in a pan. Put the cumin seeds into the pan.
  5. Once the cumin seeds start to fry, put in the crushed (with your hands), kasuri methi and cook it.
  6. Next pour in the onion/garlic paste.
  7. Then pour in the tomato paste, green chilli and ginger into the masala (spice mixture). Fry the masala till it releases the oil.
  8. Grind the boiled spinach in a grinder, hand mixer, or blender, and pour it into the fried masala. Then mix the masala properly.
  9. Pour the cream into the masala and cook it for 3 to 4 minutes.
  10. Now put in the paneer and cook the sauce for and additional 2 minutes.
  11. The palak paneer is now ready!
Optional: Garnish it with a small spoon of cream. You can either serve hot or eat hot with chapati, roti, or naan.


  1. Very delicious and fresh. Blessings, Catherine

  2. Thanks for your lovely comment. It was very delicious! Blessings to you as well :)


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