One of my favourite curries is Palak Paneer, a delicately spiced curry made mainly of creamy spinach with fried paneer – a simple Indian cheese stirred through. Its a curry I always order when I go out for Indian. As my garden is abundant with a variety of greens I thought this was the best dish to use up a substantial amount of my fresh leaves. As a bit of a twist I have used my favourite cheese as a Paneer substitute – Halloumi – and it all honesty, it doesn’t disappoint in fact, the cubes of salty squeaky fried Halloumi makes this the best Indian Palak Halloumi curry I have tasted.
For the Spinach curry
2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
1 1/2 onions , finely chopped (any onion will do)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (whole)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger , minced or grated (20g)
2 medium tomatoes , or 250g cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 fresh green chilli , finely chopped or ¼ tsp chili powder
700g – about 9 cups fresh spinach leaves – I used, silver beet, kale & spinach, thoroughly washed and roughly chopped
3/4 cup water
¼ cup water mixed with ¼ cup powdered buttermilk – you can use 1/3 cup of cream instead
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 x 250g Halloumi diced into 1 – 1 1/2 cm cubes- I use “Olympus” Halloumi made with a layer of dried mint through the center making it extra delicious and they are a local cheese maker right in the heart of Brisbane but any halloumi would do
small amount of oil for frying the cheese
In a large saucepan, sauté the diced onion & spices in the butter, cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions have softened. Add in the ginger and garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Stir through the diced tomatoes and fresh chili if using.
Add the chopped greens a couple of handfuls at a time and stir until wilted. Then add more of the greens along with ¼ cup of water, cook again until wilted. Repeat until all the greens have wilted, cook for 10 minutes, stirring so the spinach doesn’t stick.
Add the combined butter milk and water and the lemon juice and stir to combine.
Either with a stick blender or using a blender, puree half of the mix until smooth. Adjust the seasoning.
Cut the halloumi into 1-2cm cubes and fry in a small amount of oil until golden, stir the halloumi through the spinach just before serving, saving a couple of cubes to garnish on top.
Serve on its own or with rice, or as an accompaniment to an Indian banquet.