Palak Paneer- Spinach with Cottage Cheese


Palak Paneer is a popular north Indian delicacy cooked with pureed spinach, cottage cheese, and spices. It goes very well with most Indian bread and basmati rice.

Moreover, a glass of lassi (buttermilk) goes well to drain down the goodness of this curry.

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A bowl of palak paneer served with jeera rice

Palak Paneer is a Hindi term used to describe this Indian dish, and it simply means spinach with Indian cottage cheese.

Hindi is one of the official languages in India; Palak in the Hindi dialect means spinach, and paneer in Hindi means cottage cheese made out of milk.

Indian cottage cheese can be a sibling of tofu, as they both look similar in appearance.

Traditionally palak paneer is served with naan or roti but, I have also tried pairing it with ghee rice, jeera rice, and basmati rice. And trust me, it tastes so satisfying.

I cherish everything made from spinach, However, my better half dislikes the metallic and bitter taste.

Hence this recipe is an excellent way to hide those greens and convert that bitter taste into a warm green bowl of deliciousness.

A bowl of palak paneer kept on a table

I love the excellent green color it gives to this curry. That’s what makes it unique from the regular red or orange Indian curries.

Tips to make the most delicious palak paneer

1. Choosing the Spinach– Fresh and young spinach work well with this recipe. The spinach leaves available in India are thick, fibrous and usually come straight from the farm; hence it will be muddy.

Let it sit in a bowl of water and salt for a minute and drain, do it a couple of times until all the dirt is cleared.

2. Blanching the spinach– The oxalic acid found in spinach has a unique metallic and bitter taste. Blanching helps in removing it to a great extent. Please do not add raw palak to the curry as it gives a raw taste to the curry.

3. Ice cold water– After blanching the spinach, immersing the spinach in ice cold water helps stop the cooking process and retain its bright green color.

4. Homemade paneer or Store-bought– Well, it depends on the availability and your convenience. Homemade paneer is fresh and crumbly, and Store-bought paneer has more of a mozzarella-like consistency.

Hence, If using a store-bought paneer, it is essential to soak it in hot water for 10-15 minutes before adding it to your curries, or else it can turn hard and chewy.

5. Cream and sugar– You can use cream and sugar to make the curry denser and cut out the bitterness; however, I have used cashews in this recipe for the same.

6. Pan-frying the paneer-I love the golden shade and crisp fried flavor of the paneer. If you like the crisp flavor, go ahead and grill or pan-fry the paneer.

Fresh paneer is more crumbly so fry it on a nonstick pan or coat well with oil before frying, Alternatively, you may skip frying and use it as it is.

7. Don’t have Paneer or Tofu in hand, but are craving that delicious palak gravy, Try adding mushrooms chopped into bite-size following the same recipe. I have tried the same recipe with mushrooms, and it works well.

To make Vegan Palak Paneer

  • Switch the paneer with extra firm tofu.
  • Replace fresh cream with cashew cream or thick coconut milk

To make Keto Palak Paneer

  • To make it keto-friendly, substitute cashews with pecans or macadamia.

Cooking Instructions

1. Firstly, chop off the thick and fibrous stems from spinach as it makes the curry bitter; however, you can keep the thin and flexible stems of young spinach, then rinse it under running water.

Palak Paneer Step 1

2. Then, bring 03 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add a tsp salt and the cleaned spinach, and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Palak Paneer Step 2

3. Drain the excess water through a colander and then immerse the spinach into a bowl of ice-cold water to retain its color and stop the cooking process.

Palak Paneer Step 3

4. Next, In a blender, add the blanched spinach, 02 tomatoes, 04 cloves of garlic, half-inch ginger, 02 green chilly, and 1/4 cup cashews, and blend into a smooth puree and keep it aside.

5. Heat a pan on low heat and add 1 tsp of oil, then add the finely chopped garlic and saute for a few minutes. Next, add turmeric powder, red chilly powder, and coriander powder. Let it saute. It should give out a lovely aroma of spices.

6. Then add chopped onions, and salt, and cook on a medium flame until the onions are lightly brown. This process brings a lot of taste to the curry so let the onions cook well.

(Salt will bring out the moisture from the onion and help in speeding up the cooking process; it also gives a nice brown texture)

7. After the onions are lightly brown, add the spinach puree and water, cover it with a lid and let it cook for 05 minutes. (You will have to keep stirring in intervals so that the spinach doesn’t stick at the bottom of the pan)

The spinach will also start bubbling at this step, so make sure to cover it and cook.

If using sugar, you can add it at this step.

8. Meanwhile, in another pan, heat oil and fry the paneer cubes on low heat until it’s lightly golden.

9. Add the fried paneer cubes to the curry, a pinch of ground garam masala, and crushed Kasuri methi. After that, cover and cook for 2 minutes for the paneer to soak in some flavor.

If using cream, add at this step. I have skipped it as I am using cashews., but il use coconut cream for garnishing.

10. Drizzle some lemon on the curry and serve with naan, basmati rice, or jeera rice.

Recipe card

Palak Paneer

SLICES OF LIME
Palak paneer is a popular north indian delicacy cooked with pureed spinach, cottage cheese and spices.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

To make Spinach Puree

  • 350 grams spinach blanched
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • ½ inch ginger
  • 2 green chilies
  • ¼ cup cashews

To cook Palak Paneer

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp red chilly powder
  • ¼ tsp coriander powder
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup water
  • 225 grams paneer (cottage cheese) or tofu
  • ½ tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • pinch of garam masala powder

Instructions
 

  • Chop off the thick and fibrous stems from spinach as it makes the curry bitter ( the thin flexible stems of baby spinach can be used)
  • Rinse the spinach under running water.
  • Bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil, add a tsp of salt and spinach. let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Drain the excess water through a colander and then immerse the spinach into a bowl of ice-cold water to retain its color and stop the cooking process.

To make the Puree

  • In a blender add the blanched spinach, 2 tomatoes, 4 cloves of garlic, ½ inch ginger, 2 green chilly, and ¼ cup of cashews. blend it into a smooth paste and keep it aside.

To cook the Palak paneer

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, add 3 finely chopped garlic and saute for a minute.
  • Then add ¼ tsp turmeric powder, ¼ tsp red chily powder and ¼ tsp of coriander powder, saute till its aromatic.
  • Next, add 1 finely chopped onion and ½ tsp salt. cook on a medium flame until the onions are lightly brown.
  • Then add the spinach puree and ¼ cup of water. cover with a lid and let it cook for 5 minutes (keep stirring the curry in intervals to avoid the spinach from sticking at the bottom of the pan).
  • If using sugar, you can add now (I have skipped sugar in my recipe)
  • Meanwhile in another pan add ¼ tsp oil and fry the paneer cubes on low heat until its light golden.
  • Add the fried paneer cubes to the curry along with ¼ tsp of crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and a pinch of garam masala. cover and cook for 2 minutes for the paneer to soak in some flavor.
  • if using cream add now. (I have used cashews in my recipe hence i skipped the cream)
  • Drizzle some lemon juice on the curry and serve with naan, basmati rice or jeera rice.
Keyword Palak Paneer Recipe