My favourite takeaway has to be Indian. I love the bold flavours of this vast and vibrant cuisine, from the cool coastal southern curries to the buttery northern dishes.
While writing my first book, I spent several months travelling around India, and in the south I stayed with a wonderful lady called Roseamma, a Syrian Christian who was living in the lush foothills of Munnar, Kerala.
She taught me this simple curry enriched with cashew nuts. The ingredients go into a blender to make the sauce, cooked down until rich and thick: perfect for a ‘fakeaway’.
In Amritsar in the far north, while volunteering at the langar – a community kitchen that feeds thousands of worshippers every day in the extraordinary Sikh temple – I learnt how to make palak paneer, a lush Punjabi dish with a vibrant green spinach sauce.
I have adapted mine so that you can make it really quickly, without too much chopping. These recipes are all designed with hunger in mind, so you can tuck into them in no time.
A lush vegetarian dish with a vibrant green spinach sauce.
four as a side
- 300g paneer
- 300g spinach
- 1 tomato, halved
- ½ green chilli, stalk removed, plus extra, sliced, to serve
- 1½cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- lime wedges and coriander leaves, to serve
- Submerge the paneer in just-boiled water and leave it to soften for 10 minutes. This will give it a lovely homemade texture. Cut into small cubes and set to one side.
- Meanwhile, blanch the spinach for 30 seconds in a pan of boiling water. Drain very well and put in a blender. Chuck in the tomato, chilli, ginger, garam masala, turmeric and a good pinch of salt. Blend until you have a lovely vibrant green sauce. You don’t need to add any water here, just be patient.
- Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until a little golden. Add the cumin seeds and garlic and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
- Pour the spinach sauce into the pan and add the sugar. Swirl 50ml of water around the blender and tip into the sauce. Mix well. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes so that the flavours can marry together and the sauce thickens slightly.
- Check the seasoning and add salt to taste.
- Tip the paneer into the pan. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes until warmed through. Serve immediately with sliced chilli, lime and coriander.