One of my favourite Indian meals is palak paneer. I just love how it feels to have pieces of cheese inside a thick and creamy spinach sauce. I didn't grow up eating Indian food, I was first exposed to it when I moved to Toronto to study; but I cannot remember when was the first time I tried palak paneer, in which context, or how I reacted to its taste. I find it frustrating. Food memories are among my favourite memories.
Well, I will associate palak paneer to a new memory from now on. I will always remember that this is what I made the day my boyfriend proposed to me. Yes, it seems I am engaged. He popped the question and I said yes. We will get married. We are not sure when yet though, and if it will happen in Brazil or in Canada, or both. We are not sure of anything. We will talk about it all on Sunday afternoon, he says. He wants to make a "plan". That's how he calls it. Right now, we only know we love each other enough to fully commit to each other.^^
Here is what I made last night for dinner: vegan palak paneer, rice (still finishing off the free rice my ex-roomate gave me), hashbrown potatoes and home made flat bread. The picture below was taken today for lunch, though. I ate the same thing again, because I wanted to take a better picture, with better lighting. I am still learning how to take pictures of food. Lighting makes a big difference.
VEGAN PALAK PANEER
1 large chopped onion
2 table spoons minced ginger
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 table spoons tomato paste
2 diced tomatoes
2 cups of frozen spinach
1 pack firm tofu cut into cubes
2 cups of thick oat milk (thick)
1 tea spoon sea salt
1 table spoon mustard seeds
1 table spoon coriander
3 cardamom pods
1 table spoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon curry powder
Chili flakes to taste
I started off by cooking the onions, garlic and salt in a big pot with a little bit of olive oil over medium low it. I then added the ginger and stirred occasionally. While it cooked, I crushed and mixed the spices in a mortar. Already, the smell of the spices was dreamy. I could not wait to try how it would taste at the end. I added the spices to the veggies and added the tomato paste. I cooked it until everything was cooked through then added the tomatoes, the spinach and the milk. I let it simmer for a while until the spinach were unfrozen and the sauce had thickened. I poured the mixture into the blender, whizzed it until smooth and returned the mixture to the pot. I added the tofu, stirred and let it simmer a little bit more for the tofu to get some taste.
I am not sure how palak paneer tastes in India, but I loved this one. The original recipe called for garam masala, but I couldn't find it in Sao Paulo. If I am not mistaken, I think garam masala means a mixture of spices? I vaguely remember learning that, maybe watching a cooking show some time? I would only need to know which kinds of spices to put in the mix, and how much; but the various recipes I found on the internet for garam masala differ and I am not verse enough in India cooking to use my gut.
Even for this recipe, I replaced some spices for others and changed the quantities to make it to my liking. I followed my nose. So you will have to excuse me for not being authentic. :)
I remember in restaurant, palak paneer is always served with a sort of flat bread. I decided to make some, to dip into the spinach sauce. I crushed cardamom pods and took only the little seeds inside to put into the recipe to give it a subtle Indian flavour. The salt also didn't dissolve entirely when I cooked the breads, so at some point we had bites slightly saltier than others, but I liked it. My boyfriend too.
3 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 pinch of sea salt
2 cardamom pods
1 table spoon baking powder
2/3 cup water
I mixed all the ingredients together and formed a well in the middle. I poured the water in the well and started incorporating it slowly until I got most of the flour and made a dough. I kneaded the dough until it was firm enough to be rolled. I floured the counter, separated the dough into five small parts and rolled them out into circles. I fried them one by one in a slightly oiled frying pan.