Silver Beet Paneer: Curry for a Cold Snap

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have been forced back indoors. Today, at the height of Spring, a cold front blew in and the temperature plummeted to 8.5 celsius. That’s Melbourne for you.

Yesterday afternoon was a different story. I felt like Mortisha in my Melbourne black: the hot sun beat down on my layered clothing, making the post- prandial walk quite uncomfortable. For those readers who live anywhere in the world but Melbourne, I should mention that Melbournians favour black dressing.

We had lunched at the Woodlands Hotel, a quirky hotel with an unusual menu, in Sydney Road, Coburg. We were merrily celebrating a birthday and enjoying a post- Bali get together when I noticed Madame Rosalie’s curry, a play on that Indian classic, Muttar Paneer, only substituting silverbeet and broad beans for the peas. What a brilliant idea! These seasonal vegetables have reached plague proportions in my garden. Today I’m making a silver beet Paneer curry, then next week, the Muttar Paneer, substituting broad beans for regular peas, using the same curry base as below.

Silverbeet Paneer

Ingredients.

  • A big bunch of young silver beet
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 120 ml thickened cream, (or whey from paneer or yoghurt making, as well as some cream)
  • 200gr paneer, cut into 2cm square cubes, either purchased or homemade.

Method.

Strip leaves from silver beet and add to a large pan, and add a little water. (Use stalks for another recipe). Cook quickly until the leaves are wilted but still vibrant looking. Drain, and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Meanwhile in a heavy based pot, heat oil or ghee, then add onion, garlic and ginger and cook until the onion has softened. Add the chopped tomato, and spices (except garam masala) . Stir for 30 seconds, then add a little whey or cream to loosen. Add the silver beet leaves, salt and sugar, and the rest of the cream.  Cook on low heat for a few minutes, stirring. When cooler, use an immersion blender and puree the mixture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReturn to the stove, heat gently, then add the chopped paneer and the garam masala. Swirl through a little more cream when serving.

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This dish is ample for four, with rice, assuming that there is another dish, such as dhal or another curry, and raita.

Just like the cucina povera of Italy, Indian food costs little to make. The ingredients came from the garden or the pantry.  The blow out was the purchased paneer.  Next time, I’ll make my own.

Footnote: this tastes even better the next day!

 

22 thoughts on “Silver Beet Paneer: Curry for a Cold Snap”

    1. Yes Saag Paneer is a regular on Indian menus. I can’t grow Spinach successfully here. I am on a mission to adapt all my recipes to the garden goodies, rather than run to the shops whenever I feel like something. I always assumed that silver beet would be too coarse,that the taste and texture would be wrong, but no, the silverbeet worked a treat, no discernable difference.

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  1. We’re enjoying the warmth of Brisbane this week. It’s no secret that I like all things Indian, I’d love this for dinner no matter what the weather was doing. I think that silverbeet and spices have a natural affinity….

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  2. Oh, I wish for a plague of silver beet! And, like your other comments, saag paneer is a favourite around here and I can imagine it would get even better with the more robust silver beet. Curries of all sorts usually taste better the next day. Looking forward to hear your tales of paneer making.

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    1. It’s odd, but while enjoying eating and making saag paneer for years, I never made the mental connection with silverbeet, thinking that the latter was just too coarse. There was no discernable difference, but I did use youngish leaves. I make my own yoghurt every week and use the whey to thin curries, ( a trick I learnt in a previous life) but now, on to paneer,

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  3. The Stockholmers also prefer to dress in black. At this season (late autumn here; dark and cold) people look like cold jackdaws or crows, all wrapped up in dark coats and scarves.

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