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Palak Paneer, a popular North Indian dish in which Paneer/Indian Cottage Cheese is added in creamy spinach gravy. One of the most nutritious, easy and tasty dish. Spinach is blanched, pureed and the cooked in onion tomato gravy with ginger and garlic. Not many spices are used in its preparation like in many other Indian dishes. I only use garam masala and red chilli powder to enhance its taste. Since this one of the most popular north Indian dish, everyone has their own way of making it. Many people like to add tomatoes and some like to add yogurt/curd in it, along with some chickpea flour or cornmeal or red lentils(Dhuli Masoor) to thicken the puree. I add a combination of tomato and yogurt. Also, a dash of lemon juice at the end of making it, helps in easy absorption of iron and calcium in the body. Cream is also added to for giving richness to dish. If you don’t want to add cream, grind 1 tbsp of pre-soaked cashews along with tomatoes while making the puree. There are pointers at the end of the post on how to make Vegan Palak Paneer.
Let’s see my way of making this power-packed dish. For making this we need Spinach (Palak) and (homemade/store bought)Indian Cottage Cheese/Paneer, of course:), 1 medium onion, garlic, ginger, green chilli(1-2), lemon(optional), tomatoes, yogurt/curd, cream, garam masala(available at Indian Grocery stores out of India),red chilli powder.
1.To start with, clean the spinach leaves wash it in running water. In a pot/pan add 2-3 cups of water, when the water starts boiling, add spinach leaves and let it sit in hot water for 2-3 minutes. In another pot/pan take 2-3 cups of water and add some ice cubes to it.
2. Once the leaves are soft with the help of tongs take these out or drain out the leaves in a colander and transfer immediately to ice cold water. Let the leaves sit there for 2-3 minutes then puree the blanched leaves with green chill and a small ginger piece around 1/2″ in a blender and keep aside.
3. Finely chop onion, garlic cloves and another small ginger piece. We need 1 small onion, I don’t add many onions to the gravy. If you want to add more, take a medium onion. Ginger you can take around 1″ piece and cut in two halves. Puree 2 medium tomatoes and keep aside. If the tomatoes are too sour add only 1 tomato.
4. In a pan/kadhai, add a tbsp of oil. As I have mentioned in my earlier posts also, I use mustard oil for Indian cooking. You can use any oil(like olive/sunflower) of your choice.
5.When the oil is hot enough add 1 tsp of cumin seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add chopped ginger and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, till garlic starts turning brown.
6. Add chopped onions and saute till translucent. Add tomato puree and 1/4 tsp of sugar/honey to cut the acidic factor of tomatoes and spinach. Add garam masala powder and red chilli powder to onion-tomato masala and mix well, then add tsp of yogurt to it. This is optional. If the yogurt is too sour avoid it or use only 1 tomato for the gravy. Cook the masala for 2-3 minutes.
7. Add spinach puree to masala and salt as per your taste, mix it well, cook it for 1-2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water to it if your spinach puree is too thick. Add water carefully(as required) we don’t want runny palak paneer!! You can avoid adding water to it the consistency of your spinach puree is okay to you. After adding water cook till the gravy boils and starts to thicken, then add cubed paneer pieces to it. Mix well. Finally, add dry roasted dried fenugreek leaves(kasuri methi) to the gravy and mix well, switch off the flame and keep it covered for a few minutes.
Add 1/2 tsp of lemon juice if you are not adding yogurt or the yogurt you added was not very sour.
To enhance the taste before serving add some butter or temper with 1Tsp of desi ghee/butter tadka with whole red chilli. You can add more red chilli powder if you want it spicy!! Hubby and kids love butter in palak paneer. This optional. If you are on low-fat diet you can avoid adding butter/ghee and add 1/2 cup milk in place of cream and after adding spinach gravy, avoid adding water in step 7.
For Vegan Version.
Add Tofu in place of Paneer. It will be Palak Tofu then or Tofu in Spinach gravy!!
Soak 4-5 cashew nuts in hot water for 4-5 minutes and grind with tomatoes to be added to the gravy, or you can use any plant-based cream or milk. Don’t add any water in step 7.
Indian Cottage Cheese added to creamy Spinach gravy!! One of the most popular Indian Dish
- Spinach Leaves(Palak)-250g/8 Oz
- Indian Cottage Cheese(Paneer)-200g
- Onion- 1small
- Tomato-2 medium
- Garlic-4-5 cloves
- Ginger-1 inch
- Green Chillies-1-2
- Yogurt- 1 Tbsp
- Cream- 1-2 Tbsp
- Garam Masala-1 Tsp
- Red Chilli Powder-1/2 Tsp
- Dried Fenugreek Leaves(Kasuri Methi)-1 Tsp
- Oil- 1-2 Tbsp
- Salt- as per taste
- Sugar/Honey-1/4 Tsp
- Blanch clean Spinach leaves. Add a green chilli and half of ginger and blend to fine puree.
- Chop onion, garlic and remaining ginger. Puree tomatoes.
- In a pan/kadhai heat oil, add cumin seeds, once it crackles add garlic and ginger and saute till garlic starts turning brown.
- Add chopped onions and saute till translucent.
- Add tomato puree and 1/4 tsp of sugar/honey to cut the acidic factor of tomatoes and spinach.
- Add garam masala powder and red chilli powder to onion-tomato masala and mix well, then add tsp of yogurt to it. This is optional. Cook till masala thickens.
- Add spinach puree to masala and salt as per your taste, mix it well,.
- Add 1/4 cup of water to it if your spinach puree is too thick and cook it for 1-2 minutes.
- Once gravy starts to thicken, then add cubed paneer pieces to it. Mix well.
- Finally, add dry roasted dried fenugreek leaves(kasuri methi) to the gravy and mix well, switch off the flame and keep it covered for a few minutes.
- Add some butter/ghee tempered with whole red chillies and serve hot with chapatis, nan bread, paranthas or rice .
My kids love palak paneer and I make it quite often as it packed with power nutrients. We like to have it with Tawa Chapatis, Nan or Ajwain paranthas. Be it Paneer Makhani, Shahi Paneer, Chilli Paneer,Paneer Pakoras, Paneer Nuggets. Check out a few of the Paneer dishes from blog. There are more to come :).
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