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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saag Paneer (Spinach with cheese)

So one of the most popular dishes at Indian restaurants across the country is saag panner, a curry-creamed spinach dish with cheese.

It's one of my family's favorites as well, and although my family has made this meal over the years, I find it turns out different based on the types of ingredients used each time. Frozen spinach makes it more watery versus fresh, while if the fresh spinach is blended it's creamier versus when the spinach is cooked down and cream is added.

I recently made saag paneer and apparently I did a good job, because my mom tried it and said so.

Saag Paneer
serves 6, Prep: 35 min., Cook: 35 min.


  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. of crushed fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. of fresh chopped garlic
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • 2 tsp. of curry powder **
  • 1 pkg. of paneer, Indian cheese, cubed
  • 2 pkgs. of fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of half and half

** Indian curry powder is not made from curry leaves. It actually is a blend of spices. Here's a basic recipe. You can save the extra in a small tupperware container for 6 months.

Curry Powder:
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 dried red chiles, broken in pieces, seeds discarded
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric

blend the ingredients in a small coffee grinder.


  1. Heat a medium pot over medium heat. When warm add 1 tbsp of oil to pot.
  2. When oil is heated, but before smoking, add onions and saute until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute.
  4. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and saute until tomatoes slightly melt.
  5. Add spinach to the pot and cook until wilted. Add curry mixture.
  6. In a separate saucepan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat.
  7. Add cubes of paneer and try to brown on each side over medium heat.
  8. Once the spinach mixture is cooked, take half of the mixture and puree in blender with half and half.
  9. Add puree mixture back into the original spinach mixture.
  10. Once paneer is browned add that to the spinach mixture and fold into dish.
  11. Check for seasoning and add salt if necessary. If you want it spicier you can break up a green chili and add it to the dish, or add crushed red peppers.

Serve with naan.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Mom's Famous Coconut Curry Shrimp

I'm going to preface this recipe with a little story about my mom, just because she cracks me up in the kitchen.

My mom swears she's an awful cook, yet the woman has fed her children for years and we've eaten it. I'll admit her culinary skills when it comes to meat preparation are funny, she is scared that it'll be raw so she overcooks meat until it's rubbery, but I can't blame her - she's vegetarian.

Anyway, her skills as an Indian cook are fine, though and actually good. I mean growing up my dad cooked a lot at home and there are some recipes he made that's no one has been able to replicate, however between my mom and my grandmother (her mother) I get a fair share of good indian cooking.

This shrimp dish was my vegetarian mom's creation and I honestly don't know what made her decide to mix these ingredients but this recipe is simple and delicious. Seriously, it's requested by my friends, her friends and family, alike. Furthermore, the best thing about this recipe is you can substitute anything for the shrimp and it would be just as good, we've used chicken before as well as an assortment of veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, carrots and etc.

My friend tried to order it once at an Indian restaurant and they had no idea what he was talking about, but that's because it's very Thai-influenced and it's a family recipe. So cherish this one!

Milu's Coconut Curry Shrimp
serves 6, Prep: 5 min., Cook: 25 min.

  • 1 can of coconut milk (usually in Mexican aisle)
  • 1 tsp. of Patak's Curry Paste (stick with mild)
  • 1 pound of shrimp
  • 1 carton of cherry tomatoes
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro

    1. Clean the shrimp, if fresh, disgarding veins and tails. Add shrimp to boiling water for approximetely 5 to 7 mins. Remove shrimp or drain water. Set aside.
    2. In a pot add coconut milk and bring to simmer over low to medium heat depending on your stove. Add 1 heaping teaspoon of the curry paste and blend into coconut milk. Taste the sauce and decide if you should add more curry. This recipe takes some trial and error. If you want a stronger curry flavor add another 1/2 tsp. of the curry paste and taste again. Remember as the sauce thickens and continues to cook, it'll take on a stronger flavor.
    3. Add cooked shrimp and fold in with sauce. If you want more spice, you could add a small green chili or 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes.
    4. Add cherry tomatoes and let simmer until tomatoes look a little wrinkly.

    Serve over rice with a garnish of cilantro.