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Thursday, 24 January 2013

Palak Chicken

'I'm Popeye the Sailor Man,
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man.
I'm strong to the Finich,
Cause I Eat Me Spinach,
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man...'

Ring any bell??? Yeah that's our Popeye, who we enjoyed watching as a kid. Well I still enjoy watching him. Popeye was the only bait my mom had to make me eat spinach, "Look at Popeye see how strong he gets after eating spinach." Still I kept a fair distance from spinach. No other leafy vegetable has so much of goodness like spinach. Its a great anti - oxdient and anti cancer constituents. Spinach is rich in dietary fiber, iron, vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, 0% fat, low in calorie, its goodness is endless. I just couldn't develop a liking towards it no matter how hard I try. But this one dish is exceptional.

PALAK CHICKEN is an Indian and Pakistani dish, chicken in a thick spinach based gravy. The spinach used in this recipe is a particular type called Palak. You can easily identify it from its large leaves and thin stems.This recipe was passed on to me from my mom. I cook it just the way she taught me. I love this dish because you can't taste the spinach itself in the gravy. Most of the kids don't like spinach. Its always world war III when you make them to eat it. But they will love this Palak dish. 

I must mention this before we go into the recipe, DO NOT REHEAT leftover spinach as it converts nitrates into nitrites and nitrosamines by certain bacteria that live on pre - heated nitrate rich foods like spinach and many other green leafy vegetables. Its poisonous compound maybe harmful to our health, specially for children. 

You Will Need:
Chicken - 500g
Palak Spinach - 1 big bunch (washed, stems cut off and roughly chopped)
Medium Onion - 1 finely chopped
Kasuri Methi - 1 tbsp
Garam Masala - 1 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Milk  - 100 ml
Cream - 2 tbsp
Oil / Ghee as required

Onion paste:
Medium onion - 2 roughly sliced 
Cashew nuts - 6
Green Chilli - 3
Garlic Gloves - 5
Ginger - 2 inch

The Cooking

1. Boil 200 ml of water and blanch the Palak on medium heat for  7-10 min. Drain, run under cold water and squeeze excess water from the spinach and blend them finely. Keep Aside.
2. Heat little oil on a pan and saute the onions, chilli, cashew, ginger and garlic till golden brown. Cool them and grind into nice fine paste.
3. Now on a hot pan, add ghee/oil/butter and saute the finely chopped onions till they turn light brown. Add the onion paste and kasuri methi cook till oil separates.
4. Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan and cook the chicken till they brown evenly and are 3/4th cooked.
5. Now add the chicken to the gravy and pour in the milk and cook for another 5 min. This is stage you need to check for the consistency of the gravy. If it is too runny then you need to simmer it few more min.
6. Finally add the garam masala, spinach puree and cream. Cook not more than a min.

Important Pointers:
  • Don't blanch the Palak more than 10 min. It will lose its color.
  • Retain the water strained from the Palak  you can add it while blending the onion paste or you can pour it back in the gravy.
  • When adding kasuri methi crush them between your palms so that they don't hinder when eating. 
  • You can cook the chicken completely in the gravy itself but the flavor of the chicken is so dominating in the end. When you cook it separately, it balances the chicken and spinach flavor well.
  • Cream is totally optional. The milk itself gives the creaminess to any gravy. 
  • Don't cook the Palak for long after you add it to the gravy. It will lose its nice green color and turn a tin brown. 
Happy Cooking!


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