Palak Paneer Recipe | Creamy Spinach Curry with Indian Cottage Cheese Pieces
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.
One of the best ways used by Indian Moms to feed spinach curry to kids!! 🙂 Palak Paneer is one dish that all the kids like to have happily without fussing about the spinach gravy.
What is Palak Paneer
Palak is Spinach and Paneer is Indian Cottage Cheese.
Fresh Spinach leaves are cleaned nicely and 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 it Vegan friendly.
Benefits of blanching Spinach
Many people do not blanch the leaves and directly puree it and make the gravy. But blanching has it’s own benefits, especially we are making curries like this.
Retains the bright green color of Spinach, which is appealing to eyes in curries like Palak Paneer.
It makes easy the absorption of the calcium in body, as it reduces some amount of Oxalic acid from the leaves.
When spinach is used in making curries, it may leave an after taste of raw spinach especially the Indian variety.. Blanching helps in removing the raw or the metallic after taste from the spinach curry.
How to make Palak Paneer
To make Palak Paneer, 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
How to Blanch Spinach Leaves(pics)
.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.
How to make Spinach Gravy(pics)
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.
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 a dollop of 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 and 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.
How to have Palak Paneer
Checkout this collection of Paneer Recipes from snack and starters to curries and rice recipes.
Can I make Palak Paneer ahead and Freeze it
You can make it ahead 1-2 days before serving and keep it in an air tight container. Reheat, add butter and Paneer pieces before serving. But i have never frozen the curry, so can’t comment. You can blanch Spinach and then use it to make gravy.
Recipe Card for Palak Paneer
- 300 gm Fresh Spinach 10 oz box or pack
- 200 gms Fresh Paneer cut in small cubes
- 1 Onion(Medium)
- 2 Tomatoes(Medium)
- 7-8 Garlic Cloves
- Ginger(1" piece)
- 1-2 Green Chillies
- 1 tsp Kasuri Methi/Dried Fenugreek Leaves
- 1-2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder or as required
- 1/4 Cup Cream
- 2 tbsp Yogurt/Dahi
- 2 tbsp Oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp Sugar
- Butter for garnish optional
- Wash nicely Spinach Leaves and then blanch clean Spinach leaves.
Blanch Spinach Leaves
- 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.
- 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 drain the leaves and then puree the blanched leaves with green chill and half of ginger piece around 1/2″ in a blender and keep aside.
Make Spinach Gravy
- Chop onion, garlic and remaining ginger.
- Puree tomatoes or chop very finely..
- In a pan/kadhai heat oil, add cumin seeds, once it crackles add garlic and rest of 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.
- 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 chilies and serve hot with chapatis, naan bread, parathas or rice (optional).
- You can add more garlic in the tempering for a garlicky flavour.
Whenever you make it, do give me your feedback in comments. You can post your feedback with the pic on my FB page or tag me on Instagram(#foodtrails25). Pin the recipe for later use.
If you like my work, then do HIT the FOLLOW button and SUBSCRIBE to the blog to get notifications on new posts and share the blog with your loved ones.
Thanks for stopping by and keep coming back!