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.
So what is Palak Paneer ?
‘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.
I usually buy frozen paneer as in japan, we don’t find fresh paneer. So, I always soak it in warm water for 10 minutes before using it. The softer the paneer is before adding the more flavour it absorbs.
How to make Palak Paneer ?
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 balance the bitterness. Also don’t add too much, I like to add my cream towards the end of the recipe.
Using Ghee elevates the dish a notch up, don’t skip it.
You can add a little honey to recipe if your palak paneer is a little bitter.
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 corriander leaves is a technique I learnt from chef sanjyot keer. It definetely adds a refreshing twist to the recipe and it is a keeper. You can skip corriander leaves if you wish too.
This recipe can be easily made vegan by swapping paneer with extra firm tofu ! Incase f Tofu a bit of frying after dusting with flour will help retain its shape. Also adding cashew cream or almond can be added instead of fresh cream.
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.
Fresh or frozen spinach ?
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.
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.
- Garam Masala
- Corriander powder
- Cumin Powder
- Hing or asafoetida
How to Eat it
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.
- 1 big bunch Palak / Spinach
- Water to blanch as required
- 2 garlic pods
- 1/4 cup coriander leaves optional
- 1 large coin sized ginger
- 3 green chillies
- 1 tbsp Ghee
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp hing or asafoetida
- 1/2 finely chopped onions
- Salt to taste
- 1 medium sized tomato pureed
- 3/4 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp thick cream
- 1 tsp Garam Masala
- 200 gms Paneer cubes
- Wash the spinach leaves and gently blanch it in boiling water with a little salt for about 5 minutes or until the leaves have whilted and the color of the leaves turn bright green.
- Quickly remove from heat and run it in cold water or place it in a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process.
- In a blender, add the blanched spinach leaves, coriander leaves, green chillies, ginger , garlic pods and blend it by adding little water at a time into smooth paste.
- Heat a pan, add ghee, and once hot add cumin, once the cumin begins to sizzle, add in the hing or asafoetida, and sauté for a a few seconds.
- Add in the finely chopped onions, a little salt to cook it and cook the onions until soft and slightly browned.
- Next add In the tomato puree or finely chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes thicken a little bit.
- Next add in the spice powders, cumin and coriander powder.
- Saute well until the mixture gets slightly dry.
- Next add in the spinach puree prepared earlier and rinse the blender jar by adding 1 cup of water and add it to the gravy. Stir in a cook in medium to low heat.
- Check for salt and add more if required. Add in a tbsp of fresh cream and stir it in
- Sprinkle garam masala and remove from heat.
- I personally like to add paneer after plating it so it looks pretty. So transfer to your serving dish and add in the fresh paneer cubes and drizzle the remaining table spoon of fresh cream on top.
- Serve Hot with naan or roti !