Palak paneer...a day later would have been too late for this spinach. As it was, I had to incorporate some frozen spinach in order to attain the volume of one pound of fresh spinach. I went by this recipe but simplified by just cooking the fresh spinach on the back burner for a few minutes, thawing the frozen in the microwave and putting all of that, plus the sauteed onion and aromatics, in the blender. For those who aren't familiar, "palak" means spinach in some major Indian language and "paneer" is a type of Indian cheese. I've had this and mattar paneer (green peas with paneer) in Indian restaurants before, but actually cooking with paneer was a first. Easily the most homemade-looking cheese I've ever bought, and any country denizen from Wisconsin or Europe would find that this cheese tastes extremely young. Which might help explain why you don't see it in regular grocery stores. The label on the package says "great tasting," but I found myself disagreeing until after I lightly pan-fried the cubes per the recipe instructions. Pan-frying seemed to take the edge off and improve the texture so that it almost tasted like fried mozzarella. I also used at least a teaspoon each of the garlic and minced ginger instead of the tiny amount that this recipe calls for. I really enjoyed this, and Steve did too. There might be a post titled "Mattar Paneer" in the very near future, if only to use up some more of this cheese before I lose interest in dishes that call for it.
This here was adapted from a sambhar recipe in Healthy South Indian Cooking. It basically called for yellow split peas, sauteed aromatics (mustard seeds, urad dal, etc.), onion, tomato, potatoes, turmeric and other curry-like spices, and ground aromatics (powdered coconut, dried red chiles, cumin and coriander seeds) added at the very end. I happened to still have some cubed sweet potato to use up, so I went with that instead and am glad I did. The slight sweetness of the sweet potatoes complimented the coconut better than regular potatoes would have, and the contrast with the salt and spices was more interesting than if regular potatoes had simply absorbed those flavors and not contributed anything but starch. This got eaten pretty quickly, which was good because I ended up spending a couple of days at a conference in Myrtle Beach and didn't want to leave a bunch of food behind.
My next post will be along shortly - I cooked again tonight, but not Indian, so tonight's dinner will get its own post.
Congratulations to all my friends who ran the NYC Marathon this morning (Usa, Teo, etc.) and to the top finishers - three ladies who had never run NYC before, and two who had never even run a marathon before - go Shalane Flanagan (USA, 2nd place) and Mary Katamy (Kenya, 3rd place)! And congrats to rescued Chilean miner Edison Pena, who also ran his very first marathon this morning despite a knee injury that he sustained when the mine collapsed - amazing!
And lastly, I hope everyone's adjusting all right to the sudden cold - needless to say, I probably won't be posting a lot of salads or cold dishes for a while.