A new and creative recipe, which I tried out in my kitchen for dinner tonight and it turned out downright delicious. Away from the traditional and ever-so popular saag paneer, which is available in every Indian restaurant in every nook and corner of the globe, I decided to add a twist of my own. To interpret the name I have given this recipe, it is a mix of simple and easily available veggies, with fresh organic spinach, in a creamy milk and almond sauce. No paneer, just farm fresh, straight from the farmers market vegetables and greens. Of course, there’s spinach, and a handful of kale too. Carrots, pearl onions, crimini mushrooms, yellow corn, simple! To add flavour to the dish, I added garlic, green chillies, cardamom seeds and a dash of garam masala powder. And lastly, the creamy texture, which not only comes from almonds, but with a bit of bechamel or white sauce. Agreed, one could have just added heavy cream. But I went the extra mile of making an almond paste and some bechamel or white sauce, which trust me was totally worth every minute of the effort.
A sumptious, vegetarian creation with hearty and nutritious vegetables and greens, and the goodness of almonds and cardamon, certainly gave a big boost to my dining table tonight 🙂
12-14 large fresh organic spinach leaves
2 large handfuls, fresh kale
8-10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup fresh or frozen yellow corn kernels
6-8 pearl onions, fresh or frozen
1 carrot, diced
1 tsp. diced green chillies
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
A handful of raw almonds. Soak in a little water for a few hours. Remove skins
Milk – 1 cup + 2 tbsp.
Flour – 1 tbsp
Ghee – 1 tsp
4-5 green cardamoms
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp.
a pinch nutmeg
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Blanch the spinach and kale. Basically, just add the leaves to boiling water for a minute.
Remove and immediately add to icy water, which helps retain the fresh green color. Drain and blend the greens along with green chillies, cardamom seeds and cloves, in a blender, to make a purée. Set aside.
Rinse the blender. Add the almonds and 2 tbsp milk, blend to a smooth paste. Set aside.
To make the bechamel or white sauce – Heat ghee or clarified butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir together for a minute or so. Add the milk and continue whisking till it comes to a boil.
Make sure there are no lumps. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt and white pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Add the almond purée. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil. Add the cumin seeds. When they start crackling, add the garlic, sauté for half a minute.
Add the onions, carrots and corn. Sauté for 3-4 minutes.
Cover and let cook for 7-8 minutes till the veggies start becoming tender. Add the mushrooms and stir fry on medium high heat for 3-4 minutes.
Add the spinach purée.
Add salt accordingly (remember, there is salt added in the white sauce too). Simmer for a couple of minutes.
Lastly, add the bechamel-almond sauce. Add the garam masala powder. Stir well and serve piping hot!