Spinach and Mustard Greens with Cheese
I like to combine spinach and mustard greens in this classic Punjabi curry, the mellow and bitter-tasting greens providing a nice balance with the creamy, protein-rich cheese. (In many homes and almost all restaurants, this is made solely with spinach.) For the vegetarian at the table (who conforms to a lacto-friendly diet), this is a great main-course offering when coupled with one of the rice dishes in the Curry Cohorts chapter.
You will notice that I use two garam masalas here in different ways. Initially, you add the untoasted blend early on, soon after the onion browns, to make sure the raw spices cook, providing the first spice layering. Then you swirl in the toasted garam masala toward the end, after the curry has cooked. This blend is a finishing spice (and does not need to cook since you toasted it before grinding it), yielding a second tier of flavors that are aromatic, smooth, and assertive. Both blends contain similar spices, but what you did with them at various stages creates a complex-tasting sauce.
How to Preparate Mustard Greens:
Fresh mustard greens are available in most supermarkets. To prepare them for cooking, cut out and discard the tough rib that runs through three-quarters the length of each leaf. Stack 2 or 3 similar-length leaves and roll them tightly into a tube shape. Cut the tube into thin crosswise slices and unfold them to yield ribbons (called a chiffonade). Place them in a large bowl. Once all the greens are sliced, cover them with cold water. Dunk the leaves briefly under the water. Grab handfuls of the leaves to lift them out of the water. The sand or grit will sink to the bottom. Repeat once or twice to ensure that the leaves are completely clean and grit-free.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturecheesy, creamy, garlicky, hot & spicy, savory
Type of Dishvegetable
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 medium-size red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 6 medium-size cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 4 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (each 2 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 1/8 inch thick), coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons Bin Bhuna Hua Garam Masala
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 8 ounces fresh spinach leaves, well rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces fresh mustard greens, well rinsed and finely chopped (see Notes)
- 1½ teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
- 1¼ pounds Doodh Paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes and pan-fried
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon Punjabi Garam Masala
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry until the onion is light brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the Bin bhuna hua garam masala and the turmeric. (The heat from the browned onion will be just right to cook the spices without burning them.)
Transfer the mixture to a blender jar, and add the tomato paste and ¼ cup water. Puree, scraping the inside of the jar as needed, to form a smooth, reddish-brown paste. Return the paste to the skillet. Pour ¾ cup water into the blender jar, and whir the blades to wash it out. Add this to the skillet.
Place the skillet over medium heat. Pile handfuls of the greens into the skillet, cover it, and let the steam wilt them. Stir, and repeat with the remaining greens. Once they are all wilted, cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are broken down to a sauce-like consistency and are olive green in color, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in the salt, paneer cubes, cream, and Punjabi garam masala. Continue simmering the curry, covered, stirring occasionally, until the cheese and cream are warmed through, 5 to 8 minutes. Then serve.
2008 Raghavan Iyer