This weekend, I realized a goal I’ve been working towards for years.

I made Palak Paneer that actually tastes good.

You see, since I first discovered Indian food (early in college), I’ve desired to make it for myself.  I experimented with some spice packets from when my sister took me to Duvon St in Chicago.  I was encouraged enough to go to Indian markets in my own metro area, slowly acquiring packages of cardamom pods, ground coriander, garam masala.  The last year or so has found me caught in a vicious cycle:

  1. Eat Indian food at a great restaurant.
  2. Decide it can’t be that hard.  Choose recipes online.
  3. Go to Indian Market with enthusiasm.  Chat with shopkeepers.  Smile a lot.
  4. Arrive home, sharpen knives, cook for a few hours
  5. Taste disaster of a meal.  Force myself to eat it for 2 meals.  Throw out the rest. Decide that $30 for takeout isn’t that expensive.

It takes about 2 months and a culinary success or two before I decide that It can’t be That hard and the cycle begins all over again.

I’ve tried to make Palak Paneer 4 or 5 times and each time, it’s gross.  But yesterday, sweet yesterday, I made a successful batch.  A few tips:

  • spend more on expensive frozen spinach.  you don’t want bitter stuff.  growwss
  • don’t fry the paneer too long
  • after you’ve fried it to a nice golden brown on all sides, put it in cold water to soak.  this allows the excess oil to float to the top and also for the cheese to get squeaky again
  • follow the recipe.  Cumin, Coriander, Chili Powder, and Cardamom may all start with C’s, but they’re not interchangeable.  Neither are whole seeds/pods for ground stuff.
  • not spicy enough?  add more stuff.  c’mon, it can’t be That hard!  🙂