I was at the Milk Pail a couple days ago, doing regular shopping as opposed to gigantic holiday shopping. This necessitated some cheese. I mean, the store is called the Milk Pail. Cheese!
Normally this means something like "chunk of romano". In this case, I noticed something new on the top shelf.
Paneer itself is really easy to make if you want to lug an entire gallon of milk home from the store. The basic process: boil milk, add lemon juice, watch it separate, drain off the whey, hang the cheese in a cloth, and press it with a heavy pan. Then cut it up and use it. However! We do all our shopping either on bikes or walking, so the gallon of milk is a serious weight/volume investment. This little piece of cheese was much easier to carry. I had an excellent excuse to make palak paneer: spinach curry with paneer cubes.
Palak paneer is definitely in our top ten of Indian dishes. If we go to an Indian restaurant, it's almost certain that one or the other of us (usually John) will order palak paneer, and the other will spend half the meal stealing bits of it. Well, we share in general, but still. This stuff is so good we nearly fight over it.
I use sneff's recipe, because you can't get much better than an actual chef's concoction. The only things I do differently is substituting spices, since we never have whole cumin seeds. Clearly, actual seeds are better, but even with the back-of-the-spice-cabinet ground stuff, this turns out fantastic. I also use olive oil instead of ghee. Horrors! This one makes a much larger difference in the quality of fat and general unctuousness of the finished product, so try to use ghee if you at all can.
Most Indian restaurants I've been to create a completely green puree, with pure white cubes of cheese discoloring in the ghee. This is definitely a bit more rustic, with distinct tomatoes and spinach, and cubes of cheese actually goldenized in the pan. Of course, it is also totally delicious, so who cares?
Eat with rice or naan. We had rice; if I make naan, I use the recipe here. It's totally easy and produces really, really good results. However, sometimes you just don't have any yogurt in the house.
Yay palak paneer!