Prior to my move to Indiana, I had never had Indian food. It wasn’t that the other places that I lived didn’t offer this option, I just didn’t really know what it was. If you don’t know what something is, it’s hard to make the choice to try it. Lesley loves Indian food and has forced me, I mean, invited me to join her at two different Indian restaurants in town. I was pleasantly surprised with both, but my favorite trip came when Lesley was publishing her book Clancy and the Search for the Mashed Potato
Our lunch out started like any other. Lesley was trying to make me happy about going out to eat, and I was trying to be happy about going out to eat to make her happy. Of all the things we agree on, eating out just isn’t one of them. But, life as a mom provides little opportunities for adult conversation, so we try to do it once in awhile. This trip we had an important conversation that needed to be had. Lesley was publishing her children’s book. A dream of hers. And she was about to ruin it. You see, Lesley is an editor. When you are an editor, it can be tough to be an author. Still Lesley has managed this many, many times over. This time, she was about to edit the fun right out of her book title. Clancy and the Search for the Mashed Potato is a book about a shy meerkat who takes a quest to find a mashed potato. He thinks he is looking for a literal mashed potato, but in actuality, he is looking for the dance. With her editor hat on, Lesley’s instincts were to edit “the” out of the title, making it appropriately explain the literal side of the book. Something had to be done to save the fun.
We argued fiercely all the way to the restaurant and through most of the meal, until Lesley whipped out her phone and texted her sisters and mother, all of whom have a strong background in literature. The response from all was a resounding yes to leave the “the.” Ah, sweet victory. No meal has tasted sweeter, and I will now always have fond memories of Indian food.
So, for this month, I decided to try an Indian recipe and relive the glory of that lunch. Actually, I had been craving Indian for awhile, and I knew Lesley would enjoy it! I found a great recipe that included the making of cheese. Another thing that I have always wanted to try! Paneer is a fresh Indian cheese, which means that it can be made and eaten in the same day.
The recipe was for what I had been referring to as “that green stuff,” which is actually called Palak Paneer, a vegetarian curry. I was excited to try it. For a side dish, I found a colorful recipe for cauliflower.
We had a lovely dinner. The food turned out delicious, and, as always, watching the girls play is entertaining. For some reason, all three of them have an aversion to clothes and strip down to just their underwear shortly after they finish their dinner. Inevitably, they will run around screaming and chasing after each other at least one point in the night. Naked child parades have become a hallmark of our dinners. Something that I will miss when they develop modesty.
- For the Paneer:
- 1/2 gallon whole milk
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- For the curry:
- 5 oz fresh spinach
- 1 jalapeno, seeded
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 in piece of ginger, peeled
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 2-4 tbsp coconut milk
- Heat the milk in a saucepan. Stir consistently to avoid it burning on the bottom.
- Milk will become foamy and steamy when it is done. The temperature will be around 200 degrees.
- Pour milk into a medium bowl. Add lemon juice. The milk should begin to curdle.
- Cover the milk with a lid or cloth and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Line the colander with cheesecloth and strain the milk.
- Gather the cheesecloth and gently squeeze out the remaining liquid.
- Open the cheesecloth and sprinkle with the salt. Stir gently. Be careful not to over salt.
- Place the cheese on a plate or large baking dish. The cheese should still be in the cheesecloth.
- Form into a rectangle.
- Use another plate or cans to weigh the cheese down for 15 minutes to 1 hour. The cheese is now ready to eat or go in the fridge!
- Put a medium bowl of cold water in the refrigerator. You will use this to cool down the spinach.
- In a skillet, boil water. Remove from heat and add the spinach.
- After 1-2 minutes drain the spinach and move to the ice bath. Allow it to cool completely.
- In a food processor add the jalapeno, garlic, ginger and spinach. Blend completely.
- Remove puree from food processor. Use the food processor to blend the onions.
- In a medium skillet heat the oil. Saute the blended onion until brown. Add garlic.
- Add cumin, garam masala, salt and turmeric. Stir.
- Add tomatoes, spinach puree and 1/2 cup of water.
- Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in cubed paneer and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Stir in coconut milk.
- Serve hot over basmati rice or naan.
For a side dish, we had Masala Roasted Cauliflower. The coloring on this was a bright, bright yellow, which was kind of cool. The flavor was rich and complemented the cauliflower well.
Masala Roasted Cauliflower
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut cauliflower into florets and place in a large bowl. Drizzle oil on top.
- Mix all spices together and toss with the cauliflower. The cauliflower should be evenly coated.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes.
Recipe found on What The Heck Do I Eat Now.