Monday, May 30, 2011

Palak Paneer and Kulcha



My first and only previous attempt at making palak paneer was, how shall I put it, a fiasco? Yes, that would be the right word to describe it. All I knew about palak paneer was that it was essentially pureed palak or spinach and paneer or Indian cottage cheese cooked together; I had paneer and spinach in my fridge, hence the decision to make palak paneer. That a recipe was missing, and that I did not know what other ingredients went in, did not bother me; I ploughed on bravely, boiling and pureeing, sautéing and stirring and essentially throwing in whatever came to hand.

At the dining table (or rather, a cardboard box that served as a dining table - we were just getting started), the husband sampled the green curry with his usual (and sometimes over) enthusiasm towards food. Having tasted it earlier, I knew it was not great, and had warned him so. Nevertheless, I hoped he would vehemently disagree with me and declare it the best paneer he had ever eaten. OK, maybe I am exaggerating a bit (I do enjoy a touch of drama), but I did hope he would at least say it was passable or not as bad as I thought it was. This is what he said, "You know Indu, it just isn't possible to make paneer curry at home the way they do in restaurants. It is not your fault." Ouch! Though his words were meant to console, they left me wondering why he could not have eaten his meal in silence, or why he could not have talked about happier things like the weather, and whether it was only him or had the cosmos destined all men to be tactless. 

A couple of years had gone by since that fateful day (what did I tell you about my inclination towards drama?) and I decided it was time for one more attempt at palak paneer. I wanted to make sure it was good, so this time, I browsed through many recipes online, and  realized that this was a very mildly spiced curry with the flavours coming from the spinach and paneer and the tiniest bit of spices; whatever it was, it definitely did not need that heaped tablespoonful of garam masala that I had added earlier.

This is how I made it this time:

You will need:

200 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
3 large bunches fresh spinach i.e. around 300 grams spinach leaves (stems removed)
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
1 large onion, minced (about 1/2 cup onion paste)
1 small tomato, minced (about 1/4 cup tomato paste)
3 green chilies, slit lengthwise (or adjust according to tolerance)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
3/4 cup water
4 tablespoons fresh cream (optional, I couldn't resist)
4 tablespoons oil (any refined cooking oil)
To taste, salt
As required, Water


Dice paneer into one 1cm x 1cm x 1cm pieces. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a non stick frying pan and fry the paneer to a golden brown colour.

Wash spinach thoroughly in running water until no dirt remains on the leaves. Blanch the leaves in salted boiling water for a couple of minutes. Transfer the leaves immediately to a bowl of chilled water. This prevents the spinach from being cooked further and helps retain the vibrant green colour of the leaves. Drain the water, squeeze out excess water and grind the spinach into a smooth paste.

Add remaining oil into the frying pan and add cumin seeds. Fry for a few seconds and pour in the minced onion. Fry till the colour of the onion turns to a golden brown. Toss in the chopped ginger, garlic, green chilies and kasuri methi. Saute till fragrant and add the minced tomato. Stir for a few more seconds, then add pureed spinach and water. Mix well, and adjust seasoning. When the gravy comes to boil, add the fried paneer and lemon juice and mix together. Cook for a minute more, and finally add fresh cream.

I did some background check on spinach, and learnt that while spinach may not make you as strong as Popeye (The Sailor Man), it has high nutritional benefits; it is packed with vitamins and is a good source of iron, calcium and antioxidants. (Antioxidants are supposed to slow down the ageing process. Ladies, are you listening?!) Click here for additional information on spinach.

I served the palak paneer with kulcha, which is a kind of like stuffed naan. This flat bread recipe has been tried and tested by my parents (who gave me the recipe) and my friend crl (with whom I shared the recipe) and by myself. Crl was quite happy with it, and asked me to post it on my blog. So here goes:


For the dough:
250 grams plain flour/maida
1 1/2 teaspoon active dried yeast
1/3 cup tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons curd
2 tablespoons oil (any refined cooking oil)
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoon mint leaves, finely chopped


Mix together all the ingredients for the filling.

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm milk and wait for it to become frothy . Sift together flour and salt and add the yeast mixture, curd and oil. Knead into a soft dough, adding more milk or water as required.

Cover with a moist cloth and leave in a warm place for 5 to 6 hours, or till the dough has doubled in size. Knead the dough once again and let it rest for 15 more minutes. 

Divide the dough into balls larger than lemons. Roll out a ball into a 5 cm  (round) disc on a lightly floured surface. Place a tablespoon of filling onto the centre, and bring together  edges of the disc to enclose the filling. Roll it out once more. Repeat with all the balls.

To cook the kulcha, you can:

~ Either bake the kulcha in an oven at 200C for 8 to 10 minutes.
~ Or place the kulcha on a heated tawa/pan. When one side is cooked, flip over and cook the other side.
~ Or apply water on one side of the kulcha. Place the kulcha on a heated tawa/pan, wet side down, and press with a spoon so that it sticks to the pan. Invert the pan over the flame, so that the kulcha is exposed to direct flame and brown spots appear on the surface.

Apply butter.

You can try making paneer at home. Click here for the recipe.

Enjoy your hot palak paneer and kulcha along with onion slices and lemon wedges.

PS: I must add that the few years of our life together has done the husband a lot of good. Today, if I try on a new outfit and ask him whether I look fat, he either talks about the weather, or runs to the toilet clutching his stomach, or gives me a bear hug that he takes care not to break until some distraction arrives, usually in the form of my son. Cheers !!!.  


  1. very very inviting n yummy meal...awesome clicks too..

  2. Oh my...this is a fantastic combi!!! The kulchas looks perfect like they are cooked in the tandoor...Well done!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  3. delicious combo dear...
    both looks perfect and very tempting :)

  4. Palak Paneer and Kulcha look very tempting... Pictures are very beautiful......I want to try this even though your mum doesn't like palak....

  5. Haha...I couldn't stop the smiles after reading your dramatic post ;) Quite entertaining -- keep them coming!

    I haven't tried palak paneer at home, thought this's one of my hubby's and son's favorite choice at restaurants. Since you've done the research, I'll come back here to make it :)

  6. Looks really tempting Indu...Surely gonna try...

  7. Greetings. This is my first time on your blog, but you have a terrific one. I am always on the look out for new blogs, new ideas. I especially appreciate all the details you do, so many photos makes it seem like anyone can replicate the recipe!

    I am asking, would you please consider posting a few of your favorite recipes on

    It is a tool for bloggers to see and to be seen. Your posts would fit in perfectly.

    in addition, all photos, recipe titles as well as your blog name would link directly back to your blog. Thus giving you new attention and potentially new readers.

    Or, if you just want to take a look at a lot of fellow food bloggers all in one place. A great learning experience to get ideas about how to establish your own blogging voice!

    Please take a look. If you have any ideas or questions, please do not hesitate to write


  8. Thanks for the recipe :)) I tried this one 3 weeks back and came out really good ! Thanks Indu once again ! :)

  9. I love indian food, and the nan bread is my favorite with garlic.


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