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Here we go with the final two recipes of my Indian supper, Palak Paneer and Chicken Tikka Masala. Just to clarify since here is some confusion about the difference between saag paneer and palak paneer, saag paneer is made with mustard greens, while palak paneer is made with spinach, but the recipes are very similar.

Our completed dinner consisted of Sweet Potato Samosas, with Mango Chutney, Palak Paneer, Chicken Tikka Masala, served with the Cilantro Dipping Sauce, fragrant basmati rice and store bought naan bread. A great beer or ginger beer makes the perfect drink accompaniment. Enjoy!

PALACK PANEER

Ingredients

1 pound fresh spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 tablespoon oil or ghee
1/2 red onion cut in a small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 inch piece of fresh ginger
8 ounces cubed and sauteed paneer or 1/2 of the recipe given on December 4th

Optional:
1/2 cup cream or 1/2 cup buttermilk

Directions

In a large dry sauté pan, lightly toast the cumin, coriander and fenugreek seeds over medium heat for a minute or two, stirring constantly so not to let the spices burn. Add the oil, garlic and onion and cook until soft and lightly browned. Sir in the tomato and garam masala and cook down the liquid. Add the chopped spinach, tossing occasionally as it wilts. It is important to simmer to reduce most of the water that the spinach releases as it cooks, otherwise you will end up with a bland watery dish. Add buttermilk, season with salt and black pepper, stir and add a dash or two of cayenne pepper to taste.

At this point, you can mix in the paneer cubes and serve or, if you want the restaurant style palak paneer, puree the spinach mixture by pulsing it in a food processor and then return it to the pan. Stir in cream until well combined. Gently fold in the paneer cubes, trying not to break them as you mix them in.

CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

Ingredients

1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 1/2  tablespoons lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 inch piece of ginger, grated
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 Greek or strained plain yogurt
2 lbs. skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes

For the marinade:

Blend all of the ingredients, other than the chicken, in a food processor until smooth and then place into a large bowl. Add the cubed chicken, mix to coat, then cover and place in the fridge for two to three hours.

Thread chicken cubes on to bamboo skewers that have been soaked for a half hour or on metal skewers. Either place on a sheet pan and roast in a 400 degree oven for 15–20 minutes or grill until just fully cooked but still tender and juicy, approximately 10-15 minutes.

Serve with masala sauce.

MASALA SAUCE

Ingredients

2 tablespoons oil or ghee
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1-2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1/2 serrano or jalapeno chile, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, pureed until smooth
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch or two of cayenne powder (depending on how spicy you like it)
1/4 cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 – 3/4 cup heavy cream (depending on how creamy you would like it)
Chopped cilantro leaves

Directions
Heat the oil and onions in a heavy bottomed saucepan on medium and cook until onions are soft and lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the ginger, chili and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, paprika, and garam masala and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, honey and water and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Stir in the heavy cream, bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens. Season with cayenne, salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

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