I will be the first to admit it; I have a little bit of an Indian food addiction, just an itty bitty teeny tiny one. Whenever I order carry out in NYC it is either Thai or Indian food, but most of the time it is Indian food. Thank you sweet baby Jesus, that Derika is a good sport about it and indulges my ridiculous need to eat Indian food all of the days.
I had Indian food for the first time when I was in my first year of college with a close friend of mine. My brain and my taste buds pretty much exploded after my first bite! I have never had anything, especially something that was vegetarian that had so many amazing layers of flavor. I would eat it everyday if I could. Maybe I just need to move to India. 🙂
One thing that NYC is not lacking is Indian food. Which is perfect for supporting my habit. The real problem is that it is too easy to order Indian food in NYC. With a quick click of the mouse on my computer, I can have amazing Indian food delivered to my house in less than 30 minutes…Let me tell you how DANGEROUS this is! With that type of service there is very little motivation to make Indian food at home. However, there is something really satisfying about cracking the code of one of your favorite dishes and making it a bit healthier. That is exactly what I did with my favorite Indian dish. I love Palak Paneer, but I know that all of that amazing cheese is probably not good for me. So by making this dish at home I was able to sub out the paneer for chickpeas, cut back on the oil and I served it over quinoa instead of rice. Voila, I now have a healthier version of my favorite Indian dish!
Don’t let me fool you, I have been playing around with this recipe for years and I have never gotten the consistency right. I am here to tell you that the secret to the perfect Palak Chana is to use frozen spinach instead of fresh. Fresh spinach is packed with to much water and you end up with a soupy mess. Also pulsing the spinach in your food processor instead of pureeing it will make you life so much better.
Here is a quick Palak Chana Tip:
Smooth Spinach = OK
Soupy Green Spinach Mush = Not OK.
- 1 TBS Ghee or Olive Oil
- 1 Large Yellow Onion, minced
- 1 17oz Bag Frozen Spinach
- 1.5 C Cilantro, stems removed
- 1 Jalapeno, minced (remove the seeds to reduce the heat)
- 1 Tsp. Cumin Seeds
- 2 Tsp. Garam Masala
- 1 Tsp. Ground Coriander
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 Tsp. Salt
- 1 Tsp. Fresh Ginger, grated
- 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 14oz Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes with garlic, drained
- ½ C Coconut Milk
- ½ C water
- 2 Cans Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 C Quinoa
1. Heat the ghee in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Sauté the onion and jalapeno until soft.
2. Push the onion and jalapeno to the side of the pan and add the cumin seeds to the other side of the pan. Stir the cumin seeds around on one side of the pan for about a minute. Just enough time so they can crackle and pop and little bit on their own. Careful not to burn.
3. Add the garam masala, ground coriander, bay leaves, fresh ginger, and minced garlic. Sauté everything together for 2-3 minutes to bring out the flavors.
4. Add the fire roasted tomatoes and sauté until everything is well mixed and the flavors are playing together nicely, about 5-10 minutes.
5. Thaw the spinach in a large bowl in the microwave. Transfer to a colander and press ALL the excess liquid out. Add the spinach and fresh cilantro to the skillet. Sauté for 3-5 minutes.
6. Remove the bay leaves. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until you get the desired consistency (smooth, but not a green soupy mess).
7. Return the mixture to the skillet, and stir in the coconut milk. Add the water if you need to thin it out a bit.
8. Add the salt and chickpeas and mix everything together.
9. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes to encourage the flavors to continue to party with one another.
10. Serve with quinoa or basmati rice. If you have some naan available, it would be delicious with it as well. Top it with a little cilantro and eat the heck out of it.
Usually this dish is made with paneer, but I added chickpeas to increase the protein. Feel free to substitute paneer or tofu in place of the chickpeas. This recipe makes a decent amount, but it freezes perfectly.
Happiness and Samosas!