My friend Steve, of Rancho Gordo notoriety, has been talking up his posole/prepared hominy for some time now but I’ve only just got around to making my first order. This is because when I think of posole I think of the Mexican soup/stew of the same name (well, in Mexico it’s called “pozole”) and since El Triunfo, our local Mexican restaurant of choice, offers excellent pozole on the weekends it didn’t seem like anything I needed to learn to make myself at home. But then I began to think of possible uses for posole/hominy in Indian dishes. I really like the texture of prepared hominy (right between chewy and soft) and while it doesn’t bring much flavour to the party (a mild corn sweetness) it seemed like it would be a plausible substitute for ingredients that work the same way in certain dishes.
The first thing I thought of was substituting it for paneer in palak paneer. This not because posole is anything like paneer in texture, because it is not. But I figured it would work there because unlike in palak chicken or palak mutton, the paneer doesn’t actually bring any flavour to the party and so the use of posole would not be subtracting anything on that front. It’s also the case that an iconic Punjabi dish is sarson ka saag (stewed mustard greens) which is usually thickened with corn flour and eaten with makki ki roti (or corn rotis) and so this seemed like it could be a loose play/pun on that dish. (I’m not aware of prepared hominy being used in Punjabi or other Indian cuisines but that means little: it’s a big country and while I’m Indian it’s not like I’m some great authority on Indian cuisines.)
Anyway, I think it worked out quite well. I wouldn’t make it as a substitute for palak paneer (since good home-made paneer is not hard to make) but as a dish in its own right. If you’re vegan, however, you might make this fit that bill for you. Either way, if you have spinach and hominy on hand, give it a go.
- Prepared hominy, 4 cups (cooked ahead of time and drained)
- Pureed spinach, 4 cups
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 tblspn or so each of garlic and ginger, grated
- The following whole spices: 2 small pieces of cinnamon, 3-4 cloves, 4-6 pods of green cardamom
- The following spices ground together: 1 tspn cumin seeds, 1 tspn coriander seeds, 3/4 tspn turmeric powder, 3/4 tspn red chilli powder
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 1 big pinch kasoori methi/dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
- 1 pinch sugar
- [If you don’t have cooked hominy at hand this is what you do with the dried: soak the hominy overnight (or 8 hours), drain it, add enough water to cover by 2 inches in a deep pot, bring to a boil and simmer for about 2-3 hours till the hominy has expanded/”flowered” and is easily chewed but not mushy. Store in its cooking liquid in the fridge if not using immediately. Otherwise drain 4 cups of the hominy and set aside.]
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the whole spices.
- Once the spices release their aromas add the onion and stir till it begins to brown.
- Add the grated ginger and garlic and stir for another minute over medium-high heat.
- Add the powdered spices and stir over medium heat for 30-45 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes, kasoori methi and salt and cook till the tomatoes are fully integrated.
- Add the spinach puree, bring to a boil and then reduce to a high simmer.
- Add the drained prepared hominy, mix in, cover the saucepan and cook at a simmer for another 30-60 minutes.
- Serve with rice or, ideally, with parathas.
- Depending on how soft your hominy gets at the first stage you might not need to simmer it as long with the pureed spinach but it does help all the flavours come together.
- I always add kasoori methi to my pureed spinach dishes. It adds a depth and smokiness which is particularly useful when the dish does not incorporate meat. You can get it from Amazon if you don’t have a South Asian grocery near you. (Full disclosure: that’s an Amazon Associates link that’ll make me a few cents if you make the purchase.)
- If you look at my recipe for palak paneer on the blog you’ll see that I used more ground spices there than here. I’m not particularly consistent with that (my spices mixes always vary from iteration to iteration). In this case, however, I purposefully used fewer spices as the spinach is this wonderful late fall/early winter harvest from our CSA (the wonderful Open Hands farm) that I’d picked myself, pureed and frozen back in November, and I really wanted to let the flavour of the spinach shine.
- I’m quite pleased with how the hominy extends this dish and I’m going to make it again. The good news is that one packet of dried Rancho Gordo hominy makes for a large amount of cooked posole. I used a lot of it here and a lot of it in another experimental dish with keema/minced meat (recipe coming soon) and then there’s still some leftover. I’m going to freeze that for next week.
- I’ve never cooked with canned prepared hominy so I’ve no idea how that would work instead.