Recipe #21 OPOS Cookbook Project: North Indian Gravy
You either totally love Dhaba style food or hate it completely. There is no middle way! A Dhaba is a small food shack which serves piping hot and spicy food usually found on north indian highways. Those of you who have traveled extensively through roads to northern parts of India would know what life savers these dhaba’s turn out to be. While travelling, amidst stretches and stretches of no man’s land , suddenly you will find these shacks poping up serving delightfully tasty food.
Palak Paneer is an amazing combination of fresh spinach leaves cooked and served with cottage cheese. Let’s get to how I made this dish Dhaba style –
In a 2 liter pressure cooker, add 3 teaspoons of oil. You can substitute oil with ghee for a richer flavor. Now, add the following whole spices – 2 cardamom pods, 1 small bay leaf and 2 teaspoons of coriander seeds. While adding the coriander seeds, slightly crush them between your palm to release the flavors. Add 1 chopped green chili and 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste. Adding coarsely pound GG paste adds to the flavor. On top, layer 3 finely chopped onions and tomatoes. Now, add the following dry masalas – 1 tsp each red chilli, garam masala, coriander, 1/2 tsp each of jeera pwd and amchur pwd and 1 tsp salt.
Now, take a small inner vessel and fill it up with 2 cups of washed and roughly chopped spinach leaves. Arrange the paneer on top of the spinach leaves and set it on top of the masalas like shown in the pic below. I used a vessel with perforations normally used to store herbs like coriander. The idea is to seep the juices of the Palak into the gravy. If you don’t have one, no sweat ! Go with what is available.
Cook this on high flame (1100 w in induction stove) for 3 whistles. Remove from flame and release the pressure. Now, gently separate the paneer pieces and set aside. To the cooked spinach, add 1/2 of the base masala and grind to a smooth puree. Take care to add only few of the whole spices as this will result in excess spice explosion.
Now, just bring together all of the components – rest 1/2 of the base masala + pureed palak + cooked paneer cubes. Mix well. Top it off with 2 dollops of fresh cream and serve hot ! Dhaba Style !
Here is the video of the recipe. Enjoy !