June 9, 2014

Nettle, mint & paneer

June 9, 2014
I will keep it short today because it isn’t wise to write a food post on Nirjala Ekadasi, during which we fast, ideally, even from water. Unfortunately, I broke my vow already in the morning because I couldn’t move due to a lower back pain. It’s an ailment that has bothered me for some time, but which I've kept at bay by drinking two cups of warm water upon waking up. I suspect kidney stones but will hear a professional opinion later this week. Despite the drawback, I’m still determined to refrain from food until tomorrow and use the opportunity for increased yoga practice. In the afternoon I will be fortunate to hear sadhu or a saintly person speak on devotional identity, field, purpose and activity.

This nettle, mint and cheese recipe is a version of classic palak paneer. I’ve prepared it once a week since the first wild herbs appeared this spring. It turns out differently each time according to the cooking method and ingredients. Although I wasn’t hundred per cent satisfied with the result, I haven’t had time to redo this particular combination of strong mint and sweet nettle in order to test and improve the recipe. Therefore, please don’t take it literarily but as an inspiration for your own adaptation. Remember, freshly harvested mint is such a dominating flavoring agent that if you omit it, you will have to adjust the spices accordingly. Instead of nettle, you may use any other wild vegetable. For a richer dish, fry paneer.

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Nettles sting: use gloves when picking and handling them! They are best eaten before they blossom; after that they tend to become bitter. You can cut the plant several times and it will grow back again. When young, the stems are tender and usable in the kitchen, too.

If you substitute spinach with nettles, take into consideration that they don’t release as much water as spinach leaves.

Nettles are one of the nature’s most valuable sources of iron. They also contain calcium, folic acid, potassium, manganese, carotenoids and vitamin C. Because of concentrated amounts of nitrates, they should be shortly blanched. Use the water in which you boil the nettles to fertilize your houseplants or garden. Fermented nettle-water increases the pH-value of the soil and, thus, improves the health of plants. To make a fertilizer, fill a bucket with nettles and add enough water to cover them; then, let the mixture stand for two weeks, sieve out the water and compost the plants. The dilution ratio of the fertilizer is 1:10.




14 comments :

  1. Lighting in your photography is outstanding! Love the combination of earthy nettle and creamy paneer - brilliant! Nettle is my new found love this season - I cooked Nettle so many different ways and it always surprise me with rich earthy taste! Hope back pains get better soon!

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    1. I'm like you, Medha; love nettle and add it on everything: dal, kitchuri, paratha, vegetable dishes...I even water our Tulasi with nettle-tea. It's a good alternative to spinach.

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  2. Thank you Laxmi for the inspiration.There is also some varieties like sour creme or white cheese/from Bulgaria/., but with paneer is the best,I pray you get rid from the kidney stones.

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  3. I hope you feel better soon Lakshmi!

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  4. Thanks, Ratna. The back problem comes only in the morning and goes away by drinking warm water. It is toxic related and probably goes away by some dietary adjustment.

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  5. I sincerely hope your pain goes away and you feel better soon Lakshmi. I know how back problems can be painstaking. Outstanding combination. Love the addition of mint here.

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  6. Thank you for this beautiful recipe! I love making paneer (here, I can buy the milk directly from the farmer - oh so lucky!). Nettles are one of my favorites too, but they are now in bloom.
    For your back pain, please consider taking some lemon juice in your water in the morning. It is detoxifying.

    Love and light,
    Nina Surya

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    1. Thanks, Nina. I was taking lemon juice before but, at one point, found simple warm water working better for me.

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  7. I don’t think I’ve seen such a perfect marriage between ethereal and earthiness as I have found on your blog Lakshmi! I beautiful discovery. I’ve pop this recipe inspiration aside for when spring brings hers wild greens down here in Australia. Lovely to meet you! Clara

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  8. I love the addition of mint here, Lakshmi. Though nettles are almost difficult to find in my neck of wood. Hopefully you've gotten some relief from your back pain.

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  9. I love your beautiful photographs and the stories. Not to mention the simplicity of the recipes. Thank you for such inspirational blogging. Hope you feel better soon.

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  10. There is so much beauty in simplicity of your blog. Thanks for such beautiful pics and simple recipes. We make palak panner (spinach panner) a lot, this is refreshing twist

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