I’m still a little groggy as I write this. That’s what happens when you binge watch TV shows late into the night, always insisting that ‘this episode is the last one’!
We had the day off yesterday for Dussehra. I woke up early on, hoping to get a ton of work done before Denver got up. Spoke to mom, and realized she has a full fledged festival menu going back home. That was it. The craving for puri, aloo ki sabji and koftas struck and the monster just wouldn’t rest! Since everything was going to be super unhealthy, these paneer koftas in a creamy palak gravy were my attempt at bringing in a little order to the table. I have a thing for paneer and after my Healthy Paneer Makhani, this one’s my favorite!
Denver loves his spinach and I call him my popeye 3 so I decided to switch things up and do a spinach gravy instead of the regular onion tomato gravy. These koftas are like soft creamy cheese balls that just melt in your mouth, in the greenest, creamiest palak gravy. BONUS — These ARE NOT fried and I promise you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. I made these in a paniyaram pan with exactly a tablespoon of oil but you can bake them if you want. The crust becomes a gorgeous golden brown, while the inside remains soft and creamy.
Can you imagine that these aren’t deep fried?! If you still don’t own a paniyaram pan, trust me, you want to go buy one right now! Because they are so damn useful. I use mine for koftas, meatballs, cutlets and paniyaram’s of course! It’s going to come really handy this festive season when everything is loaded with oil and ghee, and when you need something a little bit lighter.
I also have a tip below for you to get the greenest palak curry, just the way it is when you eat outside, but with NO added colour! So if you try this out, connect with me on Facebook or Twitter, and tell me what you think! Hearing back from you makes all this effort worthwhile!
Simple recipe for healthy paneer koftas simmered in a palak or spinach curry plus a tip to get restaurant style green colour without food colouring.
For the Koftas
- 200 g Paneer (crumbled)
- 1 teaspoon Green Chilies (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon Coriander (finely chopped and fresh)
- 1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 2 tablespoons Oats, Instant (powdered)
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
For the Curry
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 2 Onions (roughly chopped)
- 3 – 4 Green Chilies
- 1 inch Ginger (piece of)
- 8 cloves Garlic
- 7 – 8 Cashew nuts
- 2 Tomatoes (medium sized , roughly chopped)
- 150 g Spinach
- 1 inch Cinnamon (piece)
- 3 Cloves
- 3 pods Cardamom
- 1 Bay leaf
- 3/4 teaspoon Garam Masala
- Salt to taste
- Ice Cubes
- 1 tablespoon Ghee (or Butter)
- 1/4 teaspoon Asafoetida (or Hing)
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 3 Cloves Garlic (smashed)
- 2 Chilies (whole Dry Red)
- Mix together all the ingredients mentioned under koftas except oil really well. The mixture should almost become smooth. Form the mixture into small balls. You should get 13-15 balls.
- Heat the paniyaram or appe pan and brush it with oil. Place kofta balls in the pan and cook them on all sides till golden brown. This should take 2-3 minutes on each side.
- For the curry, start by adding onions, bayleaf, green chilies, ginger, garlic and cashews along with a cup and a half of water to a pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for ten minutes till the onions are cooked. Once cool, strain the water but don’t throw it away. Remove the bayleaf and grind the mixture to a paste with a tablespoon or so of reserved water.
- In another pot, bring water to a boil and add the spinach. Immediately switch off the flame, and cover the pot. Let this sit for 2 minutes. In the meanwhile, prepare a pot with water and ice cubes in it. Strain the spinach leaves and dump them in the ice water. The leaves will immediately get a bright green color. Let them sit for half a minute, strain, and grind the spinach to a fine paste.
- In a pan, heat oil and add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Add the onion paste and cook for 3-4 minutes. Please note that we don’t want to brown the paste.
- Add tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes almost start breaking down. Stir in garam masala, salt, spinach paste and some of the reserved water. Bring this to a boil and then let it simmer for 5 minutes. You can add more water depending on how thick or thin you like your gravy.
- Add the kofta balls right towards the end and switch off the flame. Boiling the koftas may result in them breaking down.
- To temper the curry, heat ghee or butter in a small pan and add cumin seeds. Once the seeds start to splutter, add asafoetida, smashed garlic and whole red chilies. Switch off the flame and pour this on top of the curry.
- Serve hot with parathas or rice.
It’s important to clean spinach by washing it in running water. There’s a lot of dirt that gets collected near the roots, so it’s important to wash it away.
The koftas will remain nice and firm if you don’t boil them too much. If you are keeping the curry to serve later, store the koftas separately and add them just before serving.
There is no chili powder added to the curry so that it can retain the green colour. Adjust the spice levels to your liking while adding green chilies in the onion paste.