Spinach and cheese (you can use Indian cheese, available at most Indian spice stores in the U.S.) cooked in an aromatic blend of herbs and mild spices. Cheese cubes are lightly fried first, drained on a paper towel and then added to the cooked spinach. Restaurants often use cream for this recipe; my recipe here calls for yogurt as a healthier alternative.
To boil spinach:
2, 16 oz. packages chopped frozen spinach
3-4 mashed cloves of garlic.
Pinch of salt
2 cups water
For the Curry Base:
¼ cup olive oil or any cooking oil
2 " piece of ginger root julienned
1 bunch green onions chopped
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 Serrano chilies seeded and chopped
1 ½ medium sized (yellow) onion chopped or thin sliced
5 cloves of garlic pureed
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup yogurt (blended smooth with a spoon)
1 ½ cup cubed and fried homemade cheese (recipe follows) or
1 package paneer (Indian cheese available at most Indian spice stores) cubed and fried
For spinach prep:
Boil spinach in water, garlic cloves and salt for about 10 minutes and drain; or micro wave in a glass bowl for 5-7 minutes with ¼ cup of water. Cover the bowl with a moist paper towel first then microwave.
For the base Curry:
Heat oil in a saucepan; add the ginger, green onion, cilantro, ½ of the green chilies and the chopped (yellow) onion. Stir as you sauté to flavor the oil with the herbs, cook until most of the water from the onion has evaporated and you begin see to the oil surface again in the pot- about 8-12 minutes. Add the pureed garlic and sauté for a few seconds.
Add the salt, cayenne pepper, the crushed red pepper, cumin powder and the coriander powder. Cook as you stir another 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat. Add yogurt, blend it smooth into the cooking herbs and spices.
Add the prepared spinach stir to fold the spinach in the spices, cover and cook on medium low heat for about 20 minutes. Transfer ⅓ of the spinach mixture to a food processor and puree for a few seconds with ½ or ¾ cup water, return the pureed spinach to the pot. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for another 15 minutes, add the fried cheese cubes, fold them in the cooking spinach and continue to simmer for an additional 7 to 10 minutes. Keep covered until ready to serve.
Serve with basmati rice or naan, garnish with chopped cilantro and the remaining green chilies.
Home made Cheese: (optional)
1 gallon whole milk
3/4 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)
oil for frying the cheese
Heat milk in a deep cooking pot. As the milk starts to boil add the lemon juice and stir. Continue to boil for 3-4 minutes; the acid will separate the milk, the solid curd will rise to the top separating from the whey below. Reduce heat and let the liquid simmer for 2-3 minutes, turn heat off and allow the pot to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Strain the whey in a strainer lined with a double layer of cheese cloth. Twist and tie the cheese cloth tightly, let the cheese drain completely, about 3 to 4 hours. Untie and wrap the formed cheese in plastic, refrigerate until ready to use (can be refrigerated for approx. 2 to 3 days). Cut in cubes, fry lightly to a soft golden color, drain on paper towels, and season warm cubes with salt. Fried cheese pieces can be frozen in a zip lock bag.