Coriander, cumin, ginger, garlic, chilli; as the intense aroma of curry paste filled the house they came running! Well not quite, but honestly the beautiful smell that comes from this paste needs to be experienced by everyone. It’s life changing! This curry, like most, is all about aroma. You aren’t constrained by the ingredients list, with a little care, palak paneer can be taken down any number of avenues. It can be spicy or mild, packed with fat or full of veggies, its a white canvass that needs no improvement. For this reason I attempted a palak paneer with a healthy spin.
This variation has been designed for both weight-loss and muscle-gain diets. It is also ideal for those seeking a diet low in nutritional factors contributing to cardiovascular risk. This includes low saturated fat, adequate fibre, lower sodium, and includes vegetables2. I was able to decrease total energy3 by 42%, decrease fat* from 13g to 4g (saturated2 from 10.4g to 2.1g), and decrease salt2 from 265mg to 163mg. Fibre and protein content was increased2. I would like to note that for muscle gain this meal is really only appropriate as a protein-loading entree and would need to be adapted if consumed as a main due to extra energy requirements.
The first and most obvious step for me was to completely remove the ghee. Now, I know you’re thinking, ‘you can’t just remove the fat, that’s what mixes the flavours and intensifies the curry. It holds everything together!’. This is what my friend, Karina told me. At first I was concerned, but there was no need to be. Let me tell you that it DID work out perfectly, the dish was delicious, aromatic, and unforgettable. Frying the onion and paste without ghee was a little difficult, and I recommend a non-stick pan. The onion in particular was tricky but with LOW heat and a spray of olive oil, it can be achieved! If you’re scared about the onion browning try adding the fluid part of the paste, it helped quite a lot. Precious calories were also saved using a creamy evaporated milk or even skim milk in place of pouring cream.
Salt had to go. Not only is salt a cardiovascular disease risk factor but may dehydrate you, giving a sluggish feeling which may just be the trigger to give the gym a miss. If you still made it to the gym you might not reach your full potential due to dehydration and tiredness. By radically reducing the amount of paneer (to 70g) fat and sodium content are markedly reduced. It’s a high protein cheese, so it gets us part of the way to our goal. While the original recipe called for 200g of paneer, I needed to bulk up my version with a disproportionate amount of chicken, tofu, and paneer (now sitting at 370g compared to 200g paneer). By adding chicken (200g) and tofu (100g) the paneer’s fat and sodium content is diluted, while protein is gained. Protein is great for feeling full, and for re-fueling after (or before) the gym.
There’s nearly nothing negative to be said about this recipe! Mum didn’t like that I prepared it with chicken and tofu, but still enjoyed it. Its fun to prepared, tasty to eat and filling. Everybody enjoyed it, so I think this one will become a favorite.
Until next time!
1. The original recipe http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/palak-paneer-0 (my recipe coming soon)
2. Reddy, K.S. and Katan, M.B.. (2004). Diet, nutrition, and the prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Public Health Nutrition. 7 (1A), 167-186.
3. Lovett, G. (2004) MenuCoster [website]. Available at http://www.menucoster.com.au (Accessed 17 August 2013).
Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime