It’s been almost 3 months in paradise, days are warm but not scorching, we sort of have a routine and so do the kids and i cook every day! i actually can’t believe how everything we need or want to eat here requires preparation, it’s not that straight forward but you know what, it keeps us on our toes, and quite proud! the basic of understanding what goes in your body and take responsibility for it.
I won’t lie. There are days where i wish i could just go to the shop and buy some Hummus, but then i remember those other days when i pickle the freshest fish you can imagine and get fresh buffalo milk to make the perfect indian cheese – paneer, it gets my creative juices flowing and thinking what i can change, move, lift of cook to make my day better.
I love the local market, my veg lady is called Myhabub, she is probably in her 60’s and has the most beautiful smile, she knows me by now and always pulls me to the side and shows me the fresh stuff, if i haven’t bought a veg, she will always ask me, are you sure you don’t need it for today and i say – tomorrow! today i am making something different.
The best thing about Myhabub, when i get home there is a surprise in the bag, sometimes it’s mint, sometimes it’s coriander or chilli and sometimes it’s BASIL.
I didnt plan to buy basil, i bought loads of Palak (spinach) and although it is really fresh here, it goes off really quickly too so seems a shame not to use the same day. Did i mention the creative juices? Palak paneer is a very popular dish in India, it really celebrates the spinach and paneer in a special harmony of tastes and i have eaten and made it many times, having a fresh bunch of Basil, i give you the Basil-Palak version and also how to make fresh paneer at home.
The basil adds an amazing aromatic taste to the dish and it also smells amazing, i am glad i found another usage for the fresh basil, i mean i love Pesto but how much Pesto can one eat?
Processed paneer, although sold here everywhere tastes nothing like the one you make on your own, it’s so easy that it makes me wonder why doesn’t everyone make it really? i get fresh buffalo milk just around the corner from my house and it is amazing! creamy and good – probably the best to make paneer, if you can’t get it in your local area try and get organic full fat milk and if you really can’t be asked you can buy a good quality paneer. If you are vegan, substitute with Tofu, the sauce is so good that even on it’s own with rice it works! so i give you Basil-Palak Paneer
What You Will Need
For The Paneer (if you are vegan use a firm tofu)
- 2 x Litre whole fat milk (buffalo or cow, i prefer the buffalo)
- 1/4 x Cup squeezed lime/lemon
For The Sauce
- 2 x TBSP oil
- 500 x Grams palak (spinach) washed – not cut
- 1 x Bunch fresh basil washed – yes, the whole bunch – not cut
- 2 x Onions chopped
- 8 x Garlic cloves, crushed
- 4cm x Ginger grated
- 3 x Small dried chillies
- 10 x Curry leaves – because i need them in everything!
- 1/2 x Cup cashews
- Spices: 1 x TSP cumin seeds, 1 x TSP coriander powder, 1 x TSP garam masala, 1 x TSP chili powder (try and get freshly ground)
- 1 x TSP salt
- 1/2 x Cup of cooking water left from the paneer
- Basmati rice to serve
Let’s Get Started
- Pour the milk into a large pot and bring to the boil
- When the milk boils add the lime and lower heat
- The cheese will start to create slowly, it should take about 5-10 minutes
- When the cheese has formed, collect the cheese in to a cheese cloth and drain the liquid out, leave to form in a bowl for a few hours in the fridge
- Remove the cheese from the cloth and cut into cubes
- In a large pan, heat some oil
- Add cumin seeds, coriander powder and chili, stir for a few minutes
- Add curry leaves and stir for a few minuets
- Add onions and mix for a few minutes until golden brown
- Add crushed garlic and grated ginger, stir for a few minutes
- Add garam masala, chili powder, stir to release all spices
- Add the palak, basil, paneer water and salt and saute until the leaves are soft
- Add cashews and remove from the heat
- Using a hand blender, blend the veg and cashewes into a paste, i like it crunchy, not too smooth
- Return to the gas and add in the paneer, stir gently and leave to cook on a low heat for 10 minutes
- Serve with basmati rice