Just the dish to kick start healthy eating after the chocolate excesses of Halloween!
I know this sounds a bit silly when I am a stay at home mum, but there are days when I am totally rushed off my feet. I have recently started a few new ventures, including teaching Indian cooking classes, so some days I just don't feel like cooking much for dinner. But the rest of the family still expect a meal, so... I turn to this recipe when I need a quick and healthy, but flavourful meal. Kathryn and I taught a variation of this in our class, and it was a real hit. The paneer is beautifully soft and spicy, the tomatoes (from my own garden, mind!) add the tanginess, the spinach, a hint of bitterness and iron and the potatoes are there for the nice heft that they offer to this dish. I love it because it pleases everyone in the house, and its so easy to make, it only ever takes me 20 minutes, max, from start to finish. And look at all those beautiful colours in this dish!
I usually serve this dish with rice, but occasionally have been known to have a wedge of naan with it too. It works with everything, and is a particularly good side dish with a meat heavy menu. there has always been a bit of a debate as to whether the paneer should be fried before adding it to the spices. I leave that up to your discretion. I don't like to fry it, because I feel it absorbs the spices better, and stays softer, but it does tend to fray at the edges during the stir frying process. So its a completely personal choice. You can easily cube and shallow fry it in a little oil, until golden, if you wish.
I also go easy on the spices, as I like Aditi to be able to enjoy the dish. Just increase the chilli powder for added spiciness. Paneer is full of good protein and calcium, so just perfect for a fussy vegetarian kid. Our diet also means that we probably don't eat as much iron as we should, so this dish compensates for it, with all that lovely fresh green spinach. A side dish of dal, and we're sorted for our vitamins, protein and iron. The potatoes and rice usually provide the carbs, and we are all a happy and healthy family. Now if only I could find a way to incorporate vitamins into chocolate!!!
You can vary the vegetables in this dish to suit your preferences. Paneer-Mattar (or paneer with peas) is a popular combination, as are carrots, cauliflowers, green beans and peppers. It keeps the dish very seasonal, and the spices add the bright flavours that make this dish chock full of flavour. For me, its the convenience of being able to make delicious home cooked Indian food in less than half hour that is the best part about this dish. Easy, fast, full of goodness, and oh so tasty! What more could a 'busy' mum ask for?
400g pack of paneer, cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large potato, chopped and boiled till just tender
1 large bunch of spinach, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
Salt to taste
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp (or to taste) hot chilli powder
Heat the oil in a heavy pot, and add the garlic. Saute for about 1 minute, then add the tomatoes and the spice mix. Cook for about 3 - 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are mushy.
Add salt to taste.
Add the paneer and potatoes, and stir until they are well coated with the spices.
Add the spinach, a little at a time, until it is all wilted and cooked through. Stir gently until everything is heated through.
Serve with rice, roti or naan.