As the red go-with, I chose Red Split Lentils with Cumin from Indian Cooking (p122). Red lentils are strangely mis-named. They're orange when you buy them and a rather unappealing gold color when they're cooked, but they taste good. This is a simple recipe I've made several times before so there was nothing new here.
Making the paneer turned out to be quite simple. You simply bring the whole milk to a boil, remove it from the heat, stir in some lemon juice, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then you pour the curdled mixture into some cheesecloth and suspend it to drain overnight. (I used butter muslin, and have recently read that it's actually better for the job than what I know as cheesecloth. When I went to top up my stash of cheesecloth last year, not having found any in French shops nearby, butter muslin is what turned up in online UK shopping.)
The recipe calls for 5 cups of whole milk; I used a liter and adjusted the lemon juice accordingly. It was strange to me that there was almost exactly a liter of whey after the curds were removed. And, actually, not much more liquid came off beyond the whey that originally formed. It could have evaporated, I suppose, but since it's been raining most of the time of late (we're building an ark), I would expect the humidity to be quite high already. The next afternoon the curds were very dry.
Because they were so dry, they didn't really want to hold together all that well, but after being pressed under a cast iron Dutch oven full of water for a couple of hours, the paneer was solid enough to cut up and cook with, although the pieces weren't all that pretty.
The dish itself is easy to make, although I was pleased to have help in stemming all that spinach. I had only about 500g of fresh spinach (rather than 1-1/2 pounds), but that's still a lot. (Next time I might try this with frozen spinach which will make it a really easy dish.) First you brown the paneer, then remove it from the skillet and sprinkle with with salt, garam masala, and cayenne. Using the same oil, you fry a paste of garlic, ginger, and a chile that you've already whizzed up with water. After 30 seconds, you stir in the finely chopped spinach and some salt, cover, and cook slowly for 15 minutes. FInally you add the paneer and some cream, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes. I cut both these times quite a bit short and it didn't hurt a bit.
We were both very pleased with the result. Although the paneer was not as pretty as what you might be served in a restaurant, it was definitely tender and tasty.
This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.