Haloumi and Spinach Curry

I’ve made a chicken version of this curry some time ago and  you probably don’t come across this particular curry in the Indian restaurants often. Lamb and spinach curry, maybe. However, what’s common is palak paneer which can be found under the vegetarian section on the menu.

“Geeze Emily, why the specification of the location of the dish on the menu?” one may ask. Or maybe not.

I just feel that Indian food is not just about butter chicken, chicken tikka masala and/or rogan josh. There are so many varieties other than the rich and creamy kind that we all seem to be obsessed with. There are beans and lentil curries, dosa (think a big crispy pancake filled with dry potato curry), beriyani and pulao, and last but not least, saag (spinach and/or mustard leaf-based curry). Home-styled chicken and red meat curries don’t usually cook with cream. The most Indian mamas would cook with is yoghurt. This is based on reliable intel from a couple of Indian mamas that I’m friends with. ;P I’m just saying… home cooked curries are not the same  as restaurant curries. I just need to get this out my system, ha!

Now back to my spinach and haloumi…

It kinda sucks that the supermarkets around me don’t have paneer in stock sometimes. Although paneer is no ordinary cheese, it is surprisingly made of ordinary ingredients such as milk, lemon juice/vinegar and love (I added the last bit for cheesiness ha!). :P.

Please don’t get your hopes up! I won’t be making paneer from scratch on this post and I didn’t manage to get a hold of one either. What I will do is to find a substitution for paneer. I know some curry connoisseurs will be appalled by this. I love haloumi and I love spinach curry. Since I love them both, I think I can put them together. In this instance, two positives (haloumi and spinach curry) don’t necessarily result in a negative.

Haloumi and Spinach Curry

Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 X 250g (9 oz)  frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 packet of haloumi (180g / 6 oz) /paneer (a type of South Asian fresh cheese), diced
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp reduced-salt tomato paste
  • Salt to taste
  • Hot water

Spices:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground corianders
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (adjust to your taste)

Methods:-

1. Get ready your spices on a place/bowl. Set aside.

2. Dice onion and haloumi.

3. Heat a non-stick stirfry pan with a little bit of oil and pan fry the haloumi over medium heat until golden brown on all (most) sides. Set aside on a plate.

4. In the same pan, add onion and say, two teaspoons of oil. Saute until the onion is slightly brown over medium heat.

5. Switch the flame to low, add spices, garlic and ginger paste. Saute until aromatic over low-medium heat.

6. Add tomato paste and stir until well combine with the spices.

7. Add about 3/4 cup of hot water and allow the mixture to bubble, covered, until the oil is slightly separated on the surface. Add more water if the mixture is drying up.

8. Add frozen spinach and cook until it is no longer frozen over medium flame.

9. Cook for a further 10 minutes over medium flame before adding the haloumi. (You may need to add more water if necessary, to achieve your desired consistency – see photo below. Simmer a little longer it is still watery.)

10. Add haloumi and stir gently to mix with the spinach. Add salt to taste.

11. Best served hot and with rice. For a little kick, my beloved loves to add a couple drops of Tabasco. You can garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves and some green chillies; and/or some fresh salad.

 
8 Responses to Haloumi and Spinach Curry
  1. Kavey Eats
    March 29, 2012 | 11:15 am

    I think halloumi is a clever substitution for paneer. It’s squeaky rubbery texture is much more like the ready-made shop-bought paneer than the home-made one, but to that, I think it’s a close match. I would say that halloumi is much saltier than paneer, so recipes may need to be adjusted for salt.

    Making paneer yourself is actually really easy, mum has a recipe on her site, Mamta’s Kitchen, if you want to have a go or there are videos on youtube etc.

    • Emily
      March 29, 2012 | 11:41 am

      Thanks Kavey! I will check it out and say hello to her! :D

  2. Emily @LivingLongfellow
    March 30, 2012 | 1:46 am

    My favorite curries are the ones with spinach. Cream based Indian dishes are amazing, but you’re right, there’s a lot more out there. I had happy hour at an Indian place this week, and we got an app that I kid you not, was chickpeas, spices, tomatoes, and topped with rice crispies. Indian dishes always blow my mind.

  3. Hannah
    March 30, 2012 | 2:05 am

    I love palak paneer! This dish looks incredible. Xx

  4. Srimathi
    March 30, 2012 | 2:07 am

    The Palak paneer looks so perfect. I did not know that paneer had another name until today. Thank you for educating me.

  5. Kankana
    March 31, 2012 | 1:37 am

    I never had haloumi but love the version. Also i like how the texture of spinach looks.

  6. Tash @ Food I Fancy
    May 4, 2012 | 11:29 am

    I was just wandering if halloumi would work as a substitute for paneer, as I was getting bored of my usual chargrilling of it. I will try this recipe later as I luckily have all the ingredients – looks great!

  7. petesjoy
    May 13, 2012 | 11:33 pm

    Totally agree with Kavey Eats in that the haloumi is saltier than paneer, so don’t over season the dish until you taste it at the end. Once the frozen spinach had defrosted I found that it had slightly watered down the flavour, so be sure to correct this before serving. I used fresh chilli, instead of the powder, and a squeeze of lemon juice to lift the dish at the end. I noticed that you served it with some chopped tomato at the end, but I added this to the pot just before serving.

    I don’t know why I never thought of using haloumi before, but I’m glad you did and that I came across this recipe!

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