Tag Archives: spinach

Palak means spinach

24 Jun

Everytime I visit my favourite North Indian restaurant I order the same dish: Palak Paneer or spinach with cottage cheese. In fact, when I was on holiday in Northern India a couple of years ago, I think I ordered this dish almost every night. My three travel mates didn’t compain as it was everyone’s favourite. The creamy, slightly spicy spinach coupled with the lightly toasted cottage cheese is just perfect.

Unfortunately, because  paneer is quite pricey (you can get a 150gm packet for between RM15 to  RM20) I don’t often make it at home. It’s cheaper to order it at a restaurant:  RM8 for a side dish that can be shared by 2-3 (depending how greedy you are). of course, it isn’t difficult to make paneer at home. In India, most people do. Like ricotta, what you need is whole milk and citric acid or vinegar.

But, as luck would have it, I was in Brickfields last week for a job assignment and took the opportunity to go grocery shopping. As KL’s “little India”, Brickfields has some really cool Indian grocers that stock Indian cooking produce largely  imported from India. From spice mixes to Indian biccies and snacks, these shops are a cook’s paradise (well, if you’re into Indian or Indian influenced cooking). I spent about an hour browsing and came away with a 200g packet of paneer (and a whole lot of other things — I cannot resist temptation) costing me Rm15.

Perfect. 200g of paneer is actually quite a lot, especially since I usually only cook for two. I decided to use just a small portion of the cheese for the Palak Paneer and keep the rest to experiment with later. Palak paneer can be eaten with rice but is usually eaten with Indian flat breads. I like to eat mine alone.

Palak paneer

2 cups chopped spinach

40g paneer, cubed

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped

1 large green chilli, sliced

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

salt and pepper


Shallow fry the paneer cubes till they begin to get golden and crusty. Don’t let them fry too long.

Pound/blend the onion, garlic and ginger to a paste. Mix the cumin and coriander powders with the paste. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a saucepan and add the onion/garlic/ginger paste. When fragrant, add the green chillies and soon after the spinach. Cook till the spinach is all soft, then transfer the contents of the saucepan into a blender and blend (if you want it slightly chunky, just pulse the mixture a couple of times. If you prefer it smooth and creamy, blend it for about 2 mins.

Heat some butter in a clean saucepan; add a couple bay leaves. A couple of minutes later add the spinach blend and then the cottage cheese and leave it to simmer for about 5 mins, stirring occassionally. Low heat.

Remove and serve with bread.

A superhero called Spinach

23 Dec

Cant go wrong with spinach

Flaky — not me; but the canola pastry I used for this spinach roll thing. I am not being blasé; I really don’t know what to call it. It’s not a puff and it didn’t roll properly. Let’s just say … spinach pastry, shall we?

Spinach, I find, is the one thing you cannot possibly get wrong. Whether you  cream it or steam it; stuff it in a puff or puree it in a soup, the result is always fantastic.

For this filling, I just cooked the spinach (drained well) in some butter and added some sliched button mushrooms (sauteed first), cherry tomatoes, chopped shallots and garlic and then seasoning. That’s it. The tomatoes were more for colour than flavour because nothing should outshine the rich flavour of  spinach. And, it’s food you can eat without guilt cos apart from being rich in iron, this superfood is also  rich in betacarotene (second only to carrots) and also a good source of potassium and folates.

And it tastes good. Always. Anyways, back to the recipe; a good final touch would be sprinkling  cheese on the spinach when rolling it in the pastry.

Remember: be strong to the finich and eats lotsa spinach.

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Bouchee. Don’t pronounce, just devour.

14 Dec

Stuffed but still pretty.

I had it once at a fancy cocktail party somewhere and I think I spent more time studying my bouchee than actually eating it. Ok, it’s pretty small and so all it takes is a  couple of bites (one, if your not concerned about appearing dainty).

And then I forgot about it until last weekend. I was at Bangsar Village II and noticed that the Delicious cafe had an annex that sold food supplies and some other cook’s toys: crockery and machinary.  I walked in — just curious, not intending to buy anything — and 20 minutes later walked out with a packet of 12 mini bouchee cases. I had to  get them because I hadn’t thought of those bouchees since that one time I had them many years ago.

Ready made.

Bouchee shells are basically puff pastry cylinders — kinda like shot glasses made of puff pastry — in which you stuff with the filling of your choice. Now, I had no intention of making the shells myself but since they  were all done for me  (all I had to do was stick them in the oven (180 C) for five mins or so to warm them up before serving) I started to get excited and began cracking my head over the filling. (An alternative to the shells would be toasted 2 inch bread circles — a tad less exciting but just as delicious)

Well, I didn’t really crack my head. I knew I wanted mushrooms and spinach and I knew I didn’t want them together. So I decided to stuff a couple with Creamed herbed Mushrooms and another two with spinach and caramelised onions.

spinach and onions.

The mushrooms were lovely but I think my new favourite combo is the spinach + caramelised onions. So divine. And so simple. Don’t believe me?

How could Popeye not like spinach?

A cup of spinach, washed and cut small

1 tsp garlic

salt and pepper

knob of butter

Melt butter. Add garlic and a couple of minutes later, add spinach and a dash of water. Cook till soft and water evaporates; add seasoning and mash spinach and remove from heat.

The spinach- onion hook-up.

11/2- 2 tbsp Olive oil

2 large red onions

1 tsp brown sugar/balsamic vinger

Heat oil in saucepan till it simmers (medium heat). Add onions and stir a little to coat with oil evenly. Stir occasionally — not to often or they won’t brown well. Five minutes in, add  sugar and let the magic begin. Remove before it burns (letting them burn just a little is quite lovely actually) — should be about 15 to 20 mins.

Stuff bouchee with spinach mix. Spread onions on plate. Place the stuffed bouchee on the onions. Attack.

I told ya, it’s easy when you cheat and use store ready shells.

This is getting to be a challenge

23 Oct
Pop em in your mouth

Spinach and Mushroom mini quiches

Am I regretting my decision to give the blood type diet a chance? Yeah.

Am I beginning to question how such a restrictive diet could work in the long run? Uh-huh.

Am I going to give up? Hell, no! Cos my pride is the only thing bigger than my craving for tofu.

Yes I know that sounds ridiculous. Whoever craves tofu, right?

Anyways, back to my progress.  I have decided to stay away from broccoli for a few days — I”ve been having it so often, them florets are starting to invade my dreams. Me and broccoli — I think we need some space.

And so, I’ve decided to turn to spinach (good for me) and eggs (good for me about 3/4 times a week) and cheese (good for me) and mushrooms (neutral — i.e. they arent beneficial but they ain’t gonna do me harm).   Mix all these up — with salt, pepper, chilli flakes and some milk) and I got myself six pretty little muffin quiches (no pastry, as wheat is the enemy) that are delicious, healthy and type-B friendly.

Muffin Quiches (makes 6) ♣

3 or 4 medium to large button mushrooms (fresh is always better), sliced

2 tbsp leaf spinach (I used canned spinach), chopped

1 green chilli, chopped

1 tbsp crushed tomatoes (I used canned Italian tomatoes)

3 eggs

1 cup milk

leek (about a 3 inch stem), sliced.

chilli flakes

mozerella cheese, cubed small

4 black olives for garnishing, sliced

1 tbsp butter

1. Heat butter in a skillet and add leek. Saute for about 3 mins, then add mushrooms. Cook till brownish (about 4 mins) and add spinach, tomatoes  and green chilli. Cook for a few minutes and add chilli flakes, a pinch of salt and black pepper — be generous with the pepper. Take off the fire.

2. Heat oven at 180 C

3. Whisk eggs with milk, add salt and then add in the cooked  ingredients.

4. Divide mix and half fill the muffin cups. Add cubed mozerella — distribute evenly in all six cups. Fill with remaining egg mix.

5. Top with sliced olives and bake for 40 mins.