NB: Since both of my grandmothers’ grandmothers were probably Irish peasants, I can’t imagine that they were concerned with much more than boiling up enough potatoes to keep their families fuelled.
Right - let’s talk the recipe. It may seem like something of a faff to cook, and spice, spinach and paneer separately and, if so, make the spinach as written and then just bung the cubed paneer cheese in at the end and stir well. You don’t even need to fry the cheese really, I just like the little additional texture that it gives.
Also, as with all curries, this one will benefit from sitting around in the fridge for a couple of days while all the flavours get to know each other. What I would suggest is, making the spinach in advance then spicing and frying the paneer fairly last minute to really maximise that lovely textural contrast mentioned above.
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For the spinach:
2 tsp rapeseed oil
Tsp dried fenugreek seeds
Medium onion, finely chopped
Generous tbsp of tomato purée, mixed with 120ml boiling water
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Fresh ginger (equivalent weight to the garlic cloves), grated
0.5 tsp chilli powder
Heaped tsp cumin
Heaped tsp ground coriander
0.5 tsp turmeric
Heaped tsp garam masala
Generous pinch of salt
450g frozen spinach
For the paneer:
120g paneer cheese, cut into small cubes
Tsp rapeseed oil
0.5 tsp each of: ground coriander, cumin and paprika
0.25 tsp turmeric
Generous pinch of salt
Start with the spinach. Heat the oil, gently, in a large pan and add the fenugreek seeds. As they start to brown off and smell a little toasty, add the onions and fry until they are softened but not brown.
Next, in goes the diluted tomato purée and the rest of the spices. Mix well. Keep the heat nice and low and simmer everything together for about 5 minutes.
At this point you can add the spinach. Again, mix well and stir gently to allow it to melt and combine with the ingredients. Turn the heat down low, low, low, cover the pan and cook for 15-20 mins. You will need to check and stir frequently. If it is drying out, add a splash of water.
Place the paneer cubes into a large bowl, drizzle over the oil and sprinkle over the spices. Toss to combine.
To finish the curry: heat a dry frying pan over a gentle flame, add the cubes of paneer and cook, regularly shaking and turning, until start to go crisp and golden on all sides. Stir through the spinach before serving. The whole thing can be done in advance, paneer and all, but for maximum flavour and texture, make the spinach slightly in advance and stir the paneer through at the last minute.