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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Shaam Savera - Spinach and Cheese Dumplings in Gravy

Those of you who are readers of the blog, know that I love cooking and entertaining.
All my friends know that I am a foodie. Last month my friend (K.J.) had invited us to a party at her house and naturally my first question to her was "What's on the menu?". She shared the basic outline of what she had planned but didn't want to reveal the big surprise that she had made for the day. I was curious and couldn't wait for the evening. We reached her place and her husband also told me that she had spent hours in the kitchen and that I would be absolutely taken by the dish. Finally, the wait was over and it was time to eat and time for the unveiling. The food spread was elaborate and she had made a lot of dishes and then she presented the surprise dish. What a spectacular sight it was!!! Not only was the dish absolutely delicious, it was beautiful to look at. It was a curry with beautiful koftas nestled in gravy.
After the party I asked her if there was any leftover, since everyone was raving about it. There was just a little left for me to photograph. I asked her if she would be willing to share this wonderful recipe and the process involved in making it. My dear friend graciously accepted to be a guest blogger and share her recipe of this gorgeous gravy with us. Not only did she write up the ingredients and the process, but also following the format of the blog, provided a great introduction and tips. So without much ado, here is the recipe in her own words.

Thanks K.J.!!!

"When Diwali- the Festival of lights is around the corner; I start planning the menu for the upcoming party. Every year I want to try out at least one dish that I have not tried before and which seems a bit challenging for me. That gives me a chance to explore in the culinary world. I’m always on lookout for new recipes; yet I would not consider myself as an expert in cooking at all. I like recipes which are simple to follow yet give an amazing end result. This year I joined ED group on Facebook; where lovely ladies share their recipes, pictures of the amazing food that they prepare and so on. Sometime back I saw one photo shared on ED, of the curry called –“Shaam Savera” and I really liked her presentation. I thought of noting down the recipe but as usual forgot about it. And when it was time for planning for Diwali, I thought making that dish. But alas, I couldn’t find that recipe on ED. And now my mind was set on it. So I started searching online, on YouTube, everywhere. Because to be honest I didn’t even remember that name of the curry; but just that photo and description of that curry in her post was good enough to mesmerize me. I remembered three vibrant colors- green koftas/fritters cut in the middle to reveal the soft inviting white paneer balls just dipped in the red smooth gravy; which was enough to get me into drooling. And as the fate would have it; I found a step by step video of Sanjeev Kapoor explaining this very recipe. I was so ecstatic to find this recipe and I followed most of his recipe; with added twist or rather cheat sheet to make this dish to give my touch to his wonderful recipe. So here it is.

For the koftas

1 lb Spinach,
2 green chilies
2  tbsp garlic, finely chopped 
salt to taste,
1/4 tsp turmeric,
1 tsp cumin
¼ cup of chickpeas flour (besan)/rice flour,
1/2 lb paneer
2 pinches cardamom powder
corn Starch just enough to roll the koftas,
oil to deep/shallow fry the koftas

For the gravy:-
2 cans Tomato Sauce,
¼ cup heavy cream,
¼ cup golden raisins,
2 tbsp of poppy seeds,
cashews (optional, I didn’t use them),
1 pinch cardamom 1 pinch,
1 stick cinnamon 
1 tbsp clarified butter/ghee

For the koftas
Boil a large potful of water. Once it starts boiling, add the spinach, put the lid on and turn off the heat. Let it get partially cooked in the hot water for about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile prepare another pot with ice cold water, to blanch the spinach without losing its green color. Later drain the spinach from hot water and put in the cold water to stop the cooking process. Let the spinach enjoy that cold bath until you gather rest of the ingredients. Finely chop chilies and garlic. Grate the paneer finely. To that add some salt and cardamom. Now make tennis sized balls with that mixture. Now squeeze out as much water as you can from the spinach. Then finely chop the spinach. Heat some oil and once it is heated add some cumin seeds. Once they start crackling add the finely chopped chilies and garlic. Now add the spinach and keep sautéing it. Add the chickpeas flour and/or rice flour, bit of salt, turmeric and keep sautéing till the whole mixture becomes bit dry. In this process the flour gets cooked and is absorbed in the spinach as well. Let this cool down completely. Once it is cooled down make a flat disk of this spinach mixture on your palm with help of drops of oil. Now place the paneer ball on that spinach disk and roll it into an enclosed ball. So you should not be able to see any white of paneer in it. This way finish rolling all of the koftas. 

At this stage either you can deep fry the koftas as Sanjeev Kapoor has explained in his recipe; or you can shallow fry or use appe pan like I did. For that heat up the appe pan. Add a teaspoon of oil. Now sprinkle some corn starch in a plate and roll the koftas in it to get it coated uniformly. Now carefully place each kofta in the appe pan. And put a lid on it and let it get cooked on low flame. This process is time consuming. Once it is cooked from one side, flip it and remove the lid. Wait till you get nice browning done on both sides. This way koftas would be crispy form outside and yet soft and gooey from inside. Let all the koftas cool down and get started with gravy.

For the gravy
You can make any tomato based gravy that you are comfortable making it. This is my standard gravy for most of the rich Punjabi dishes I make. It goes well with paneer butter masala, paneer tikka masala and such. Soak the golden raisins and poppy seeds in some milk for at least 2-3 hours before hand. If you want to add cashews then soak those as well. Once it is soaked and become soft; blend all of it together. Now heat up ghee/clarified butter and add the cinnamon stick and a pinch full of cardamom. Once that gives nice aroma add the raisins/poppy seeds paste and sauté it for couple minutes. Now add two cans of tomato sauce. And let the gravy cook for about 5 minutes on very low flame.  At this point add salt to taste, a teaspoonful of honey and crushed kasoori methi. At the very last add the cream, stir it and turn off the heat. You can adjust the salt/honey per your taste.
For assembling this dish, get a flat dish and pour the gravy in it. Now cut each kofta in two equal parts.

And place each of kofta in the gravy. You can get creative by decorating it per your style-like drizzling it with some cream last minute or if you like add finely chopped cilantro.

Make sure that there are no lumps in paneer. You will need to mash it smooth like dough for rotis. If you can make paneer form scratch then that would be the best option. You can find how to make paneer from scratch; in this blog. And if you are like me; you would buy frozen paneer.
Make sure that paneer is at room temperature; so that it can regain its moisture. In time crunch you can microwave it for 15-20 seconds to get the rock like to soft-mushy transformation.

Another key point to remember is to add salt as the last ingredient in spinach mixture. Adding salt tends to generate moisture and we want to have dry mixture to make koftas.

For gravy you can follow Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe with fresh tomatoes; but this gravy dish is my goto recipe which can be prepared in less than 10 minutes. "


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