Spinach Fritters and
Palak Paneer Milap
Indian Spiced Spinach and Ricotta Fritters
Serves: 4 to 6
2 cups freshly washed spinach, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 1/4 cup ricotta salata or if necessary, Canadian feta as it crumbles well
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp red chili powder or fresh chopped chilies
1/2 tsp turmeric (optional, for colour)
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds, coarse ground. Smash under a rolling pin
1 tsp salt
coking oil, we recommend sunflower oil but if possible grapeseed
Mix all ingredients together in a medium-size bowl except the ricotta cheese. Make sure the batter is smooth. Fold the ricotta in gently, making sure the ricotta doesn’t break.
Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat and coat the bottom with oil, approximately one knuckle’s worth. Cook a small bit of the batter to taste for seasoning. Season appropriately.
Drop 2 tablespoons of the mixture for each and flatten lightly. Cook until golden brown and crisp. This takes about three to four minutes each side.
Place on a plate lined with paper towel mixed with freshly washed, finely chopped coriander for zing. Repeat until all batter is used up.
Serve warm, with yogurt or a squeeze of lemon.
Re-heat in a single layer in the oven on 350 F for 10 minutes.
To make a complete meal, stuff in a pita shell with a yogurt sauce and greens.
Palak Paneer Ka Milaap
Growing up in Kenya it is made differently to the one from India. Unlike the saag, which is pureed spinach with the addition of paneer, my Mum made palak paneer without pureeing the spinach. This in my mind is the real palak paneer. Leafy spinach cooked with a blend of spices and each morsel of ricotta is enveloped in the chunkier spinach. I have taken my Mum’s recipe and modified it slightly. Simple enough to make and yet full of flavour.
1/2 cup oil, sunflower or grape seed, for frying and cooking
7 cups spinach, freshly washed, finely chopped (about three bunches), blanched for two to three minutes
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
3 cups paneer (Indian-style ricotta cheese), cubed (about one block of hard paneer)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds, fresh roasted, coarsely crushed under a wine bottle
2 medium red onions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
5 plum tomatoes, washed, seeded andfinely chopped
2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp sugar, to taste
3/4 tsp garam masala
In a large pot, bring six cups of water to boil, add the chopped spinach and blanch it for two to three minutes.
Drain and run under cold water, squeeze excess liquid and set aside.
While the water is boiling in the above step, heat the oil in a large frypan on medium high heat.
Add the garlic and stir them slightly, cooking them (on medium high heat) to a golden brown. Remove the garlic chips with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel.
In the same oil, add the cubed paneer and shallow fry to a golden brown. Once browned on all sides, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a platter lined with a paper towel.
Remove all but 3 tablespoons of the oil from the frypan. On medium high, heat the oil, add the cumin and coriander seeds.
Once they begin to sizzle, add the red chilli powder and gently mix. This gives off a nice colour to the base of the dish.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped onions, cookingthem for about seven to eight minutes until nicely caramelized and a soft golden brown.
To the onions, add the tomatoes and ginger, stir to mix well and cook covered for three to five minutes until the tomatoes are soft and mushy
Add the spinach, fried garlic chips, milk and sugar to this tomato and onion mixture. Stir well and cook covered on medium low for five minutes and this will create a thick mixture.
Add the paneer cubes and cook this partially uncovered for three to four minutes on medium low to blend all the flavours together.
Sprinkle with the garam masala stirring it into the spinach and paneer.
Serve warm with any Indian bread, some condiments and pappadums if desired.
Tofu or Soy chunks can be substituted for the ricotta cheese
Paneer can be found in mainstream grocery stores in a block, vacuum packed.