Palak Paneer is a rich and creamy spinach curry with Indian cottage cheese with indian spices.
Palak Paneer is one of the most popular curries from north India next to paneer butter masala or Butter Chicken. which are also our family favourite and I make it often to serve with Coconut Milk rice or Jeera Rice or even with plain basmati rice.
Palak/Spinach being rich in Iron and calcium is a must in our homes during weekday lunches. I usually Make palak paneer when we are having the mood for north indian food like paneer butter. Regular weekdays I make either Keerai Masiyal , Paruppu keerai , More Keerai. I don’t like to waste even the stems some times I make a pachadi out of it.
‘Palak‘ means Spinach and ‘paneer‘ is indian cottage cheese that is made by curdling the diary. I will be posting a recipe on how to make paneer at home soon.
How is Palak Paneer prepared ?
In this recipe, spinach is blanched and then pureed along with green chillies, corriander leaves, ginger and garlic. The pureed spinach is then added to the pan and cooked along with onions and other spices. Finally a dash of cream is added to the curry to bring a nice creaminess.
I usually buy frozen paneer as in japan, we don’t find fresh paneer. So, I always soak paneer in warm water for 10 minutes before using it. The softer the paneer is before adding the more flavour it absorbs.
Adding Sugar will help retain its bright green colour. This is optional step.
To fry or not fry the paneer pieces? – Its a personal choices if you ask me. It also depends on my mood or what I am serving it with. Sometimes, Paneer is golden fried on a pan and then added to the curry. This looks beautiful, but also taste wise adds no difference except a few extra calories from frying so you can totally not do that. I like to add softened paneer pieces directly to the curry.
Adding Ghee, adds a wonderful aroma to the recipe – Don’t skip it
Why does my palak paneer turn brown ?
I have improved my palak paneer from practice. During my initial days of cooking, I used to over cook the spinach or add a few ingredients and it used to turn brownish green. Even though the taste was good. I knew I had to improve the recipe to get that irritable fresh bright green colour. Also remember when greens turn brown it indicates over cooking right.
- To retain that bright green color can be achieved by proper blanching technique. Dipping in ice cold water as soon as the spinach is wilted helps in retaining that bright color. Also on the pan, do not cook the spinach for too long.
- Adding Tomatoes – I don’t like to add tomatoes to the palak paneer recipe as it twists the taste and also changes the colour.
- Another ingredient which usually changes the color is the red chilli powder. In this recipe I have used green chillies only to spice the palak.
Can I use frozen spinach to make palak paneer ?
Some times we can use frozen spinach too. It is all about convenience. If using frozen spinach and if it is wilted already, then just rinse it in warm water before using in the recipe.
How long can I store palak paneer
I started making big portions of curries so there is always some food in the refrigerator when I am hungry. Palak Paneer stores well for 2-3 in the fridge. We have to reheat with a little water in microwave to loosen it up a little.
What Spices are needed to make palak paneer
- Garam Masala
- Corriander powder
- Cumin Powder
- Hing or asafoetida
How to Eat Palak Paneer
Personally I love to eat palak paneer with roti more than rice. But it can be served with plain basmati rice or jeera rice or coconut milk rice or garlic naan will be yummy.
Ingredients to make Palak Paneer
- 1 bunch Palak/ Spinach
- 1/2 inch Ginger
- 1 Large Garlic
- 2 no.s Green chilli
To make curry:
- 2 tbsp Ghee
- 1 tsp Butter
- 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1 small Bay leaf
- 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
- 1/4 tsp Hing or asafoetida (optional )
- 1/2 Onions
- 1/2 Tomato
- 2-3 tbsp Fresh cream
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 3/4 tsp Garam Masala
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp Corriander powder
- 200 gms Paneer (fresh or frozen)
Wash and clean the spinach leaves
Chop onions finely, roughly chop the tomatoes
Peel and prepare Ginger and Garlic
Prepare paneer if not using store bought
How to make Palak paneer
To Make Palak Puree
Bring water to boil, add some salt and add the washed and cleaned spinach leaves and allow it to wilt down and turn bright green in colour.
Remove the spinach leaves and rinse in cold water.
Add the spinach leaves to a fine blender, add green chilli, ginger and garlic pods and grind to a smooth paste and keep it aside.
To Make Palak paneer curry
Heat a pan , add ghee and butter once melted, add cumin seeds, bay leaf and cinnamon stick, hing or asafoteida.
Add the finely chopped onions, salt and turmeric powder and cook until the onions are softened and slightly browned.
Next add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes turn soft. Add the spice powders – Coriander, Garam Masala and cook for 2 more minutes.
Pour the Spinach puree and mix it in. Add some sugar to retain the colour. Mix well and cook for a few more minutes.
Finally add some Garam Masala, mix it well. Add the panner pieces ( You can also fry the paneer pieces and add to the curry)
Add fresh cream and mix it well, turn off the flame, serve it hot with rice or Roti.
How to make Vegan palak paneer ?
You can replace paneer with firm tofu and fresh cream with thick coconut milk as well to make it dairy free. Also adding cashew cream or almond can be added instead of fresh cream.
You can fry tofu in ghee, Turmeric and red chilli powder if you prefer, but paneer sometimes tends to become harder when fried.