This weekend was the much awaited University District Street Fair in Seattle. We decided to go on Sunday, partly because it was the cooler of the two days, but more importantly because we were celebrating A's 6th Bithday party at the Seattle Bug Safari down in Pike Place. It was fun!
The street fair was awesome. The kids really wanted to ride the bus to the University district and we were quite happy to oblige. Little one R was very happy as he got a huge bag of his favorite stuff right as we got near the fair. Yup, its Kettle Korn.
We bought some cool stuff for the home and garden, noshed on some always-delicious street fair food, and headed home around 4 pm. It was nice and cool at home, so I took a nice nap and was then woken up by the kids at 5:30pm. Next question - "What's for dinner, Mom?" The kids wanted pasta but I was craving some down-home fuss-free Indian food. You know, there is something to be said for our roots. I grew up in India and moved to the US in 1991. I do love all kinds of food, but Indian food is what I seek out and crave when I just want to feel comfy. Not to mention, I can cook Indian in my sleep! Anyway, the kids were ok with Indian (thank you, boys). I wantedt something quick, easy and healthy (need to offset all that Kettle Korn and ice-cream), and no meat, please. Just wasn't in the mood for meat.
So, this is what we had for dinner. Tandoori roti, basmati rice, saag (palak) paneer, mixed vegetable sabji, homemade plain yogurt, and some green chili pickle.
Saag (palak) Paneer
Disclaimer. This preparation is a quick, healthy, home-cooked version of the much-loved Indian restaurant favorite. This is not the elaborate, fat and spice laden stuff you get when you eat out. This is everyday fare. Yes, I know this does not taste like the luscious creamy version you are accustomed to, but try it. Its a lot healthier and to my taste buds, just as good.
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 tsp cumin (jeera) seeds
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1 tsp Indian red-chili powder (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder (home ground preferable)
1 tsp coriander powder (home ground preferable)
1 roma tomato, chopped fine
1 lb package, organic chopped spinach (frozen)
1 tbsp kosher salt (more/less to taste)
1/2 lb Paneer, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I used Appel farms brand)
1. Heat oil in a wide saucepan. I used my 3 Qt. All-Clad saucier. Add cumin seeds, wait till they slightly brown. Then add onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute till light brown. Then add chili powder, turmeric, cumin and coriander powder.
2. Add tomatoes. Leave on medium heat till tomatoes cook down. Add spinach and salt to taste. Add approx. 1/4 cup water, increase heat to high for a few minutes. Lower heat and simmer, covered, till spinach is cooked well, 15 to 20 minutes. You want the spinach to wilt completely and lose its bright green color.
3. Puree the mixture. I use my handy Braun immersion blend stick and do this directly in the saucepan. You can puree in a blender or food processor. Just be careful to use the "pulse" option. You are looking for a chunky puree, not smooth spinach babyfood slop. As Alton Brown says, "that is not good eats".
4. Return spinach puree to saucepan (if it had been taken out). Add paneer. Simmer on low 10 -15 minutes, or just until paneer heats through and softens up.
Mixed Vegetable Sabji
Sabji literally means vegetable in India. This is a true 'kitchen sink" dish in my home. Great way to use up vegetable odds and ends in the fridge.
1 lb frozen organic green beans
2 carrots, 1/4 inch dice
2 new red potatoes (yukon is ok too), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb panner, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin (jeera) seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp salt (more/less to taste)
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped fine
1. Heat oil in shallow saucepan. Add cumin seeds, let brown. Add onion and garlic. Saute till light brown. Add potatoes and turmeric. Stir gently till potatoes are coated with onion mixture.
2. Add all the other ingredients (except cilantro). Stir gently but thoroughly. Cook for a few minutes on med-high heat. Add a few tablespoons water, cover, and simmer on med to med-low 15 to 20 minutes. Vegetables should be tender, yet not mushy.
3. Take cover off. Cook 5 - 10 minutes on med-high till any remaining water evaporates. Check seasonings. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.