I had planned to make Palak Paneer last night, but I ended up making Parathas (flat bread) with Palak (pureed spinach) stuffed with Paneer (cottage cheese) and spices. So keeping the ingredient list the same, I changed the look and feel of the dinner.
Stuffed Parathas are a favorite in every family! With a slight twist and creativity with ingredients, they could get tasty and innovative.
These Parathas are soft, flaky and tasty from the outside and fresh lemony and soft melted cheesy from the inside. Get creative with the dough and the stuffing. You can never go wrong!
Blanch a bowl full of fresh spinach or baby spinach leaves. I like to keep some part of the stem as it contains lots of fibers. I sprinkle some water and microwave spinach leaves for 2 minute. You need not over cook it, because overcooking spinach destroys it nutritional value and lush green color of chlorophyll. (Yes, there is science behind it!)
Peel 1/2 inch ginger, garlic cloves and some green chillies.
Puree: blanched spinach leaves with ginger, garlic, green chillies, salt, cumin seeds and freshly squeezed lime juice.
In any iron rich food, Vitamin C is very important. Iron absorption increases when Vitamin C is used and in this case I am using lime juice in the puree and cottage cheese stuffing :) And of course I love the taste and freshness of fresh lime in my kitchen.
Puree everything well. It makes 1 cup of spinach puree.
In a bowl take 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 tbsp ghee or oil, 1 tbsp. plain yogurt.
Add a cup of pureed spinach to the flour mixture.
Use your hands to knead the dough well. I did not need any water since the puree was enough to make a soft dough. Adding water could dilute the puree making the dough light in color.
Knead it well with 2-3 drops of ghee or oil. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
To prepare cottage cheese filling, take 2 cups of grated Paneer (cottage cheese) and add 1/2 cup of finely chopped or grated onions.
Add finely chopped green chillies, salt, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, freshly squeezed lime juice.
Add 1/2 tsp. of red chilly powder. (optional)
Mix cottage cheese filling well and keep it aside.
Divide the wheat flour dough into 10 equal parts. We need to start rolling each dough into flat bread.
Use dry wheat flour on both side of the dough to start rolling. Pick the flattened dough often to avoid sticking to the rolling surface.
Make a 4 inch diameter circular bread. I will call it PURI (do not worry if it is not circular)
Add a spoon full of cottage cheese filling in the center of the PURI
Pick the side of the PURI and bring them together
This should appear like a drawstring bag or a potli
Press on the top to flatten it
Invert the stuffed dough and press lightly
Using dry flour to dust the dough on both sides, roll out the dough lightly such that the filling spreads inside evenly without oozing out
Roll out 6-7 inch diameter paratha. Do not worry about the shape. Squares, triangles and other shapes are in fashion :)
Place rolled paratha on a hot griddle/tava
As the bottom of the Paratha starts cooking, flip it for it to cook on the other side
Apply ghee or oil on the cooked side and flip it again
When cooked evenly on both sides, remove from the griddle
When hot, Paneer or cottage cheese is soft and melted
Serve with yogurt, lime pickle and chopped onions!
Of course, we did not make all 10 Parathas yesterday night! In fact I saved some dough and stuffing and rolled them out quickly today morning to take them for our lunch! :)
There is no day when I make Parathas and Shu does not want to try making them. The shape, size, thickness of the paratha does not matter to me. The best thing is seeing my husband getting his hands dirty to make something for me. BTW, he makes excellent Aloo Paratha (Potato filled flatbread) from scratch, (making the paratha dough and potato filling.)
So all you husbands and sons out there, it does not need to be a birthday, or anniversary or mother's day or some occasion to cook. Just let the woman in your life take a day or few hours off the kitchen and you make some quick and fun dinner!