Palak Paneer is a vibrant Indian cuisine that stands out for its captivating flavors and rich creamy texture. Palak Paneer is a beloved vegetarian delight that has graced Indian dinner tables for generations. Here I will share the best two ways to prepare delicious palak paneer. With the easy to available home ingredients you can prepare this spinach paneer in no time.
Palak, the Hindi word for spinach, takes center stage in this recipe, offering a burst of freshness and an abundance of essential nutrients. Paneer, a fresh and mild Indian cheese, balances the palak paneer recipe with its creamy texture and ability to soak up the bold flavors of the spinach gravy.
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About Palak Paneer
Palak Paneer, a classic North Indian cuisine, is a dish that showcases the vibrant flavors of fresh spinach, onions, spices, paneer (Indian cottage cheese), and herbs. The name palak paneer itself reveals the essence of the dish, with ‘Palak’ representing spinach and ‘Paneer’ signifying Indian cottage cheese. Together, they create a magical combination of paneer simmered in a smooth, spicy, and utterly delicious spinach gravy.
Palak Paneer is a bit of a celebrity in the world of Indian curries. This delightful, creamy, and flavorful green dish pairs tender paneer with a fresh spinach sauce, making it a vegetarian main course.
This Palak Paneer recipe holds a special place in my heart, passed down through generations in my family. Paneer curries have always been a great hit in my home, especially those North Indian dishes that pair perfectly with roti or chapati.
The vibrant color and the creamy texture of the palak paneer sets it apart from other Indian cuisines. This delectable Palak Paneer pairs perfectly with roti, naan, or paratha. If you’re following a gluten-free diet, it’s just as delicious with cumin rice, biryani rice, steamed rice, or ghee rice.
In my recipe, I have shared with you two ways to make delicious palak paneer. I have used a combination of spinach gravy and chopped spinach. Palak has essential nutrients like calcium, iron, and vitamin C. It’s a meal that’s as good for your taste buds as it is for your body.
I will discuss both the blanching and non-blanching process to make the spinach paneer. However, I personally prefer blanching. This step not only preserves the dish’s vibrant green color but also enhances its health benefits.
Many enjoy this palak paneer recipe with paratha, naan, or roti, but I enjoy this with steamed rice or jeera rice. If you decide to try palak paneer, don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments.
I have used homemade paneer for the palak paneer recipe. If you use store-bought lightly fry it to get rid of the raw smell. To make the paneer soft and moist – give it a warm water soak before frying.
For the vegan pals out there, swap the paneer for tofu cubes, and don’t forget to ditch the cream. Instead, whip up some cashew or almond cream to elevate the final gravy. Whether you’re a paneer lover or on the vegan trail, Palak Paneer has something for everyone.
How to make Palak Paneer?
Process – 1
Step 1. Blanch and Purée Spinach
1. Rinse spinach leaves thoroughly under running water.
2. Boil water. Then, toss the spinach into the hot water and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
3. After that, strain the spinach.
4. Quickly transfer the spinach to a bowl of ice water to preserve its vibrant green color.
6. Blend the spinach to create a smooth purée.
Step 2. Making Gravy
7. Heat oil, ghee, or butter in a pan.
8. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds and let them splutter.
9. Toss in an Indian bay leaf (tej patta).
11. Introduce ginger garlic paste and sauté until the raw aroma disappears.
12. Include chopped tomatoes and sauté until they soften.
13. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, and coriander powder. Mix well. Sauté for a minute.
14. Include some dry roast Kasoori methi. It will definitely enhance the flavor of the palak paneer recipe and make it more aromatic.
15. Toss in chopped spinach and mix thoroughly.
16. Cook along with the spices for 3-4 minutes.
Step 3. Assemble Palak Paneer
17. Stir and add 200-250 grams of paneer cubes directly into it. Mix gently.
18. Sauté the paneer in the spice mix for 5 minutes. As I have used the homemade raw paneer, by doing the process the raw smell of paneer can go away. If used, sautéed paneer can skip this step.
19. Incorporate the spinach purée. Mix well.
20. Add about 1/2 cup of water or as needed. Stir again.
21. Simmer the gravy for 6-7 minutes until the spinach is cooked. Season with salt and a little sugar. Sugar helps to balance the taste of the palak paneer recipe.
22. Stir in garam masala powder.
23. Incorporate the cream and stir gently. Simmer for another minute.
24. Serve hot palak paneer with naan, paratha, roti, or steamed rice.
Process – 2
Step 1. Making Spinach Puree
1. Select young, fresh spinach leaves.
2. Avoid using large stems or stalks from mature spinach, as they can make the gravy bitter. If using baby spinach, keep the tender stalks.
3. Rinse the spinach thoroughly in a large pot of water. Rinse the spinach multiple times and drain off all the water.
4. Heat a pan. Add immediately all wet spinach into it.
5. Sauté on medium heat until the spinach wilts, which takes only 2 to 3 minutes. Avoid overcooking.
6. Cool the mixture and transfer it to a blender along with a small piece of ginger and 1 to 2 chilies.
7. Blend to a thick, smooth puree. Add a little water if required.
Step 2. Making Gravy
8. Heat a pan with oil or butter.
9. Add whole spices cardamoms, cinnamon, and cumin seeds for flavor. You can skip them if you don’t have whole spices.
10. Toss in finely chopped onions. Fry until the onions turn golden.
11. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 2 minutes.
12. Include finely chopped tomatoes or tomato puree. Sauté until the tomatoes become mushy.
13. Once the tomatoes are fully mushy, add garam masala, turmeric and chili powder and sauté for 2 minutes.
14. Crush half a teaspoon of Kasoori methi and add it to the mixture.
15. Add the palak puree and cook until it begins to bubble.
16. Adjust the thickness with water.
Step 3. Make Palak Paneer
17. Add paneer cubes to the mixture.
18. Stir well and cook for more 5 minutes to soak the flavor of the palak gravy.
19. If you like, you can add cream at this stage or homemade malai.
20. Enjoy creamy Palak Paneer with Basmati rice, naan, plain rice, or paratha.
1. Choose Spinach: Begin your palak (spinach) adventure with fresh and tender spinach leaves. Eliminate the Unwanted Stems. If you encounter dense or stringy stems, say goodbye to them. Tender stems, on the other hand, are welcome to join the spinach paneer recipe. Spinach leaves often come bundled with dust and soil particles. Be vigilant about pesticide residues. Thoroughly clean the leaves – it’s not optional; it’s essential! Consider Frozen Spinach. No need to blanch it again; it’s already been through that process. Give it a Good Squeeze. Frozen spinach carries some water weight; give it a good squeeze after thawing. Drain that excess moisture.
2. Blanching: I highly suggest blanching spinach. It’s a simple extra step that brings goodness to your dish. Blanching does wonders! It banishes that raw, and bitter taste that spinach can have, making it much more delicious.
Blanching also does some impressive clean-up work. It sweeps away those pesky microorganisms and any lingering pesticide residues. Plus, it makes the spinach’s nutrients more accessible for your body to enjoy. It keeps your spinach looking brilliantly green, enhancing the visual appeal of dishes like your beloved palak paneer.
3. Paneer: Select top-quality paneer, as it’s the star of the show in our palak paneer masterpiece. In case you’re going for the store-bought, frozen version of paneer, give it a warm water bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, give it a gentle squeeze to ensure its tenderness. For an extra touch of indulgence in your homestyle palak paneer, consider lightly pan-frying those paneer cubes before introducing them to the spinach sauce.
4. Creamy gravy: Start by blanching the spinach leaves until they turn a vibrant dark green. Next, transform them into a velvety paste, ensuring there are no unwanted lumps.
Use a blender, but don’t pour in any extra water; let it become a silky puree. Once your spinach gravy is simmering to perfection, embellish it with full-fat cooking cream to achieve a delightful creamy texture. This addition will also help tone down the spiciness, making it a more comforting dish.
5. Vibrant color: Indian curries are often red or orange because of tomatoes and onions. But there are green curries that use spinach instead like in the palak paneer. Be careful with the garam masala, or your spinach paneer will be too dark.
6. Health benefits: Vibrant green leafy veggies have a reputation for being a health powerhouse. Spinach leaves are like a treasure chest, packed with fiber, iron, and calcium. When spinach teams up with paneer, it’s a double whammy of health and protein. Tofu can seamlessly replace paneer in this recipe. The velvety spinach sauce pairs beautifully with tofu also.
How to choose spinach for palak paneer?
1. Choose fresh, light to medium green palak for the best taste. Avoid dark leaves, as they are less tasty.
2. Avoid using the stalks or stems of palak, as they make the palak paneer bitter.
3. I have not tried the Palak Paneer recipe with frozen spinach, but you can give it a try.
Is Palak Paneer a healthy dish?
Yes, Palak Paneer is considered a nutritious choice. Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. It is particularly abundant in vitamins A, C, and K, along with folate, iron, and calcium. Paneer is an excellent source of protein, which is crucial for muscle development and repair.
How can I make the Palak Paneer gravy creamy without using cream?
You can make the gravy creamy by using cashew paste or blanched almond paste. Both options provide a rich, creamy texture without the need for heavy cream. You can use the malai (Upper creamy layer in milk after boiling it ), which is easily available in our house.
What’s the difference between Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer?
Palak paneer is made with spinach puree, while saag paneer is made with a mix of greens. Some common leafy greens used in saag paneer include amaranth, radish, mustard, or fenugreek. Saag means greens in Hindi, and palak means spinach. Saag paneer is more popular outside of India and rarely do you get saag paneer in Indian restaurants than palak paneer.
Can I use frozen spinach for Spinach Paneer?
Yes, you can use frozen spinach. Before freezing, spinach undergoes a quick blanching process. You can skip the blanching step in your palak paneer recipe and head straight to the blending phase. But don’t forget this crucial step – after thawing, be sure to give your spinach a good squeeze to rid it of excess water.
Can I substitute tofu for paneer in Palak Paneer
Yes, you can use tofu as a substitute for paneer to make a vegan version of Palak Paneer.
Palak Paneer is a creamy and delicious dish that can pair beautifully with naan, paratha, rice, or roti. Palak paneer is a tasty yet healthy recipe prepared using cottage cheese and spinach.
Palak(Spinach) – 1 bowl
Chopped palak – ½ cup
Ghee – 1 tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Bay leaf – 2
Cumin – ½ tsp
Onion – 2 (Chopped)
Tomato – 1(Chopped)
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Paneer – 200 gram (Cubes)
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Kasoori methi powder – 1 tsp (Dry roast)
Garam masala – ¼ tsp
Sugar – ¼ tsp
Salt to taste
- Rinse the palak or spinach leaves thoroughly in running water. It’s okay to keep tender stems but remove stringy ones.
- Heat 4 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil.
- Place the spinach leaves in the hot water for 2-3 minutes.
- Use pasta tongs to remove them. Quickly transfer the blanched spinach to a bowl of ice-cold water.
- This retains that beautiful green color.
- Drain the ice water and put the spinach in a blender. Make a smooth palak puree without adding extra water.
- Heat oil, ghee, or butter in a pan, ensuring the butter doesn’t brown.
- Add cumin and let it splutter.
- Toss in an Indian bay leaf (tej patta) and finely chopped onions. Sauté until the onions turn golden.
- Add ginger garlic paste and sauté until the raw smell disappears.
- Toss in finely chopped tomatoes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes until they soften.
- When fat is released from the sides of the mixture, add turmeric, red chili powder, and coriander powder.
- Mix well.
- Add chopped ½ cup palak and mix. You can skip the step if using only palak puree. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add paneer cubes. Stir lightly with the mixture. Cook for another 5 minutes. Here I am using homemade raw paneer. If you use fried paneer, skip this step.
- Add your smooth palak puree and mix it in.
- Pour in about ½ cup water and simmer for 6-7 minutes until the spinach is cooked.
- Season with salt and a pinch of sugar.
- Finally, add low-fat cream and stir. Switch off the flame.
- Enjoy palak paneer hot with roti, paratha, or naan.
1. If you’ve got baby spinach, those stems are okay! No need to worry. For mature spinach, be a little picky and ditch those stalks and stems; they can make things a tad bitter. Snip off each stem like a pro – it’s the key to a tastier dish. Don’t overcook the palak; it can go from delicious to bitter in no time.
2. Want to add a flavor bomb to your Palak Paneer? Go for whole spices, but remember, they’re not mandatory. If you skip them, no problem! Just up the garam masala to match your taste preferences.
3. Drop store-bought paneer in hot water and let them soak for 10 minutes. After that, let them drain, sauté lightly and they’re ready for the recipe!
4. Blanch the spinach. It’s like a spa day for your greens. It keeps things safe by kicking out unwanted microorganisms and pesticide residues. It ensures those vibrant green hues stay poppin’.
5. Paneer or tofu can go from zero to hero when lightly fried. Fry them up separately and then toss them into the spinach sauce. No need to worry about cooking them again in the gravy – they’re already good to go.
6. For a pure vegan version swap paneer for tofu. You can also go dairy-free with cashew or coconut cream instead of regular cream.