Like Vegemite and avocado, this dish is an unlikely collaboration of India and Greece that surprised and negated my initial scepticism. Palak paneer is the traditional Indian dish: a pureed spicy spinach curry with paneer cheese. With this meal in mind, one day I found myself at a grocer with no paneer. “Don’t panic Jacqui, they have haloumi. It’ll be fine, right?” I couldn’t hide my hesitation.
Much to my delight, it turned out better (in my opinion) than the original! The saltiness of the haloumi accompanies the coolness of the yoghurt to create a perfectly balanced palate. Jacqui = 1, lack of time management = 0.
Once I had perfected my recipe and shoot day came, my “misfortune” continued when the market stall I went to did not have spinach, only silverbeet. “Surely it would be ok?” Again, I was skeptical.
To be honest, this time I couldn’t claim it to be any better, since it didn’t taste markedly different. Having said that, it’s nice to mix it up and it teaches me that shopping for the season you are in can be easier than you expect. Substitute the silverbeet for spinach if that is more available to you, or any other fantastic variety of green. Here it is, my amalgamation of two cultures: Palak haloumi with silverbeet.
It makes a big difference to the flavour if you can make your own curry powder, but if you don’t have time you can substitute for Indian curry powder. Serve this with rice as a vegetarian main, or with a mix of chicken, beef or pork curry, dahl, raita and poppadoms as a banquet.
Silverbeet curry with haloumi
- 8 cloves
- 5 cardomom pods, seeds taken out
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon tumeric
- 30g organic, cultured butter
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 5cm ginger, chopped
- 1-2 thai chillis
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 bunch silverbeet
- 5 curry leaves
- ½ organic, unsweetened greek yoghurt
- Brown rice, to serve
- Dry roast the cloves, cardomom seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and tumeric for approximately 5 minutes or until fragrant, stirring continuously (be careful not to burn!).
- Blend spices until powder is formed.
- Melt butter over medium heat, add onion and sauté covered until soft. Add powdered spice mixture, garlic, ginger, chilli, salt and silverbeet and cook until silverbeet is wilted (approximately 5 minutes).
- Put mixture into blender and blend until desired consistency is achieved (I find this is a very individual taste, but I like it pureed).
- Add mixture to the saucepan again, add curry leaves and yoghurt and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.