The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Palak Paneer (Spinach and Cheese) with Naan

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ehanner's picture
ehanner

Palak Paneer (Spinach and Cheese) with Naan

Naan
Naan

Spinach & Cheese
Spinach & Cheese

Thank you ejm! I was browsing your post on Palak Paneer and Naan and was inspired by your well documented process and delicious results. I have made Pita several times on the stone in the oven and they usually turn out well. I thought I would try the BBQ gas grill tonight. As you can see, they were a little thin in a few places but even the charred areas were tasty. My wife loved the spinach and cheese (firm tofu). The flavor of the cumin seeds was just subtle enough to be wonderful.

I will definitely make this again. Are there any egg plant mixes that go with Naan? I have had some canned egg plant from a middle eastern grocer that would be good on this.

I told my daughter about the Naan being the bread that fed people 5000 years ago. She thought I was cheating by not using a stone on an open fire.

No snickering on the burned spots now. This is my first time on the grill.

Eric

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Looks good! (sneaking in here) Is that canned eggplant in big enough pieces to warm up on the grill too? Maybe a quick marinade first then onto a hot plate with sourcream & garlic sauce. I'm nuts about garlic. Think I landed in the right country! They sell little tiny garlic slicers instead of presses. Fun and quick to work. What did you have in mind with the eggplant?  Hot or cold?

Thanks for sharing (snicker, snicker)

Mini O

ehanner's picture
ehanner

OK Mini, I want to see a tiny garlic slicer. I think you're pulling my leg. SK does love the garlic.

I'm thinking eggplant is cooked a little and chilled. The stuff I have had in a can is from Afghanistan I think. It's really good on Pita. Comes in a big 5 pound can. I make a big batch of Pita and Hummus and we make a meal of it. Mmm.

Eric 

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

Burn spots?  Those look perfect!  Every piece of tandoor-baked naan I've seen has those lovely, crispy scorch marks on them.  Yum. :)  Well done!

proth5's picture
proth5

I do a lot of flatbreads on the grill and find that if I bank the fire a little and leave a spot without any charcoal, I can control the "browning" process by moving the bread around a little - over the flames - then off the flames - kind of thing.

But those "boldly baked" portions are what makes the naan so special, don't you think?

Mmmm - palak paneer - takes me back to my Malaysia days...

Because of heavy rains last weekend, I couldn't use the tandoor, but I tweaked my naan formula a bit and baked on a stone in the oven.  It was pretty good, but nothing yet to write about...

Happy Grilling!

ejm's picture
ejm

Your naan and palak with tofu rather than paneer look fabulous, Eric! I'm so glad that our instructions were helpful.

I confess that I'm not absolutely wild about using firm tofu with spinach (although it's probably very good for you) - I much prefer paneer. Queso blanco (sp???) also works, as does halloumi. But with queso blanco and halloumi, make sure you add the cheese at the last minute. It has a tendency to melt right into the spinach.

-Elizabeth

P.S. If it weren't for the blue  striped tea towel under the naan, I'd swear that photo was taken in our kitchen! 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Elizabeth,

We so enjoyed the dish my wife told everyone she saw today about my new skills. I did learn a few things about handling the dough. My dough was very extensible and easily stretched a little thin perhaps. It must be the yogurt that makes it so pliable. I'll be less aggressive in my flipping back and forth next time.

We have a large Latin grocer not far from here and I'll stop in and look for the Queso Blanco next week. 

Thanks again Elizabeth!
Eric

ejm's picture
ejm

You're most welcome, Eric. We're so glad that you and your family are so excited. (And we really do think that our naan and palak paneer are stellar so it's very nice to hear that you like them so much as well.)

It hadn't occurred to me that it was the yoghurt that made the dough so pliable.

I'm very envious. I wish that I could shape naan by flipping it back and forth. I have to use the pulling and gravity method. Maybe it's because my hands are too small. My husband can shape the bread by flipping it back and forth too.

We were just looking at someone else's recipe for palak paneer and were really surprised to see the instruction to fry the cheese in oil. This is absolutely not necessary. There's plenty of fat in the cheese so it can be fried in a dry cast iron pan.

We've never tried it but it's supposedly really easy to make your own paneer. Take a look at Indira's (Mahanandi) paneer recipe. (We love "Nanak" brand so much that we're just too lazy to try making our own paneer.)

-Elizabeth 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Elizabeth,

I did fry the Tofu to brown it up but it didn't brown easily. So you use a dry iron pan to brown the cheese? That sounds like a joke we used to try in NY to get the new girl to make a grilled cheese with Limburger cheese. So it doesn't melt and get gooey?

The firm tofu was really good but I can see how any cheese would have a deeper flavor. I have always been surprised at how well tofu absorbs the flavor of the spices or sauce around it. Otherwise it's pretty bland. 

Eric 

ejm's picture
ejm

That is correct, Eric. Paneer does not melt or get gooey. I don't know why. Halloumi and queso blanco act similarly. Where paneer and queso blanco differ is how they react with the warm spinach. Paneer holds its shape in the hot spinach. Queso blanco melts and disappears (the resulting palak quesoblanco is still delicious though). We haven't tried using halloumi - it's more expensive than our usual brand of paneer so we just use that.

We use a dry cast iron pan to fry the cheese. The cheese we buy comes in rectangular chunks about 6in x 3 in x 4 in. What we do is slice it into 3 rectangular slabs that are about an inch thick and fry  the slabs on both sides til they're golden. Then remove to a plate and cut the slabs into cubes. Whatever cheese is not used for that evening's palak paneer is put in the freezer. (I know... one is NOT supposed to freeze cheese. But it doesn't seem to come to any harm.)

-Elizabeth

(I didn't know that about Limburger cheese. All I know about it is that it's supposed to be really really stinky.)

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

ejm and others who might be considering trying the combination I posted above (spinach and tofu) please note the information below.

A contributor here and friend who lives in Singapore and is aware of Chinese folk wisdom tells me that many or most restaurants do not serve spinach and tofu together. The high oxalic acid and calcium content tends to promote kidney stone growth. He suggested doing a Google search using the key words of spinach, tofu and kidney stones. I did so and found a wealth of information on the subject. Here is one but there are many to look at.
http://www.vegsource.com/articles/harris_kidney_stones.htm

I've never had a kidney stone but from what I hear it is a painful experience. The recipe I used called for 2 bunches of spinach which we easily consumed. Anyway I suggest not swapping out the cheese with tofu at the least.

Eric 

ejm's picture
ejm

I know that it is often a good idea to pay attention to folk wisdom (old wives know a lot), but this sounds a little bit like an urban myth to me (not to mention that I'm unwilling to give up my spinach and cheese).

I just googled about it and it appears that spinach is very high in oxalate. According to Amazon's "Askville", spinach should be avoided by those prone to getting kidney stones. And those who are not prone, won't be affected by the extra oxalate. Here is a portion of the answer at "Askville":

Oxalate binds with calcium that's released into a person's urinary tract for elimination, and crystallization of this compound may occur.

Judging from that, wouldn't you also have to exclude the paneer from the spinach too? Paneer is high in calcium and might bind with the oxalate in the spinach.

The recommendation on "Askville" is, rather than avoiding spinach and tofu or spinach and paneer, to drink plenty of water to dilute things well so any kidney stone formation is less likely to occur. I'll go with that!

Elizabeth