Palak Paneer is one of the most popular Indian paneer curries. Indian Cottage Cheese is cooked in fresh spinach puree with some mild spices. The dish is healthy, protein packed and is loved by anybody who tries it.
To break down the name, Palak in Hindi means Spinach and Paneer is Indian cottage cheese. You put them together with some aromatic spices and you get luscious aromatic paneer curry.
You can pair the dish with jeera rice (cumin rice) or roti (Indian wheat flat bread). I often make roti unless I want to indulge with my yeast free Instant Naan.
Palak Paneer vs Saag
Typically, in North India, Saag is referred to a mix of mustard greens and spinach. So saag paneer would have a mix of greens. Palak Paneer calls for only spinach.
For the authentic taste of this dish, avoid the baby salad spinach that you get in packets. Get the large spinach leaves for the rich taste and flavor.
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What spices are added in Palak Paneer
There are multiple versions of the dish and we all make it as per our taste bud.
The key ingredients are obviously paneer and palak. The spices that I like to add are:
- Bay leaf
- Fennel seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Cumin powder
- Coriander powder
- Garam masala powder (here is a link on how to make garam masala at home)
Do you add onion and tomatoes to Palak Paneer?
Most people add both onion and tomato, but I don’t like to add tomatoes. I stick to ginger, garlic and onion.
The steps are super simple:
- Quick boil the leaves then blend it to puree.
- Cook the finely chopped onion, garlic, green chili and ginger with the spices.
- Add the spinach puree, add the paneer cubes and cook for a while.
- Finish with garam masala.
- As you can see it’s a super quick meal for any day.
How do you get that bright green color?
The trick is to add a tiny pinch of baking soda when boiling the spinach leaves. This trick works effortlessly and this dish stays gorgeous green even the next day.
Keeping the paneer soft!
Store bought paneer are often little hard. So, once you slice the paneer block, dip the slices in warm salt water for 15 minutes, before adding to the curry.
Irrespective of how you make this dish, the combination of spinach with cumin powder, paneer and ghee is absolutely delicious and unbeatable! It’s healthy, protein packed and gets ready in less than 30 minutes. Do give a try, if you haven’t already.
- 1 bunch big spinach leaves
- Store bought or fresh homemade paneer – 8 oz
- 1 medium size red onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 inch fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 fresh green chili
- a tiny pinch of baking soda optional
- salt to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon turemric powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
- Prep the ingredients: Finely chop the onion. Pound the ginger, garlic and green chili together with a tiny pinch of salt. Roughly chop te spinach leaves.
- Slice the paneer into bite size cubes or triangles. For store bought paneer, soak the paneer cubes in hot water with salt for about 10 minutes.
- In a big pot pour enough water to boil and blanch the spinach leaves.
- Once the water starts to boil, add the leaves and the baking soda (Baking soda is just to keep the vibrant green color)
- Let it cook for 5 minutes and then drain it off the pot to a blender and blend it to a puree.
- In a heavy bottom pan or wok, pour the ghee. Once the ghee warms up, add the cumin seeds, bay leaf, fennel seeds and ginger garlic chili paste that you had pounded earlier and kept aside.
- Allow these to sizzle for about 1 minute.
- Scatter the chopped onion, season with salt and cook for 2 minutes.
- Then add the psice powder : cumin, coriander and chili. Stir around and cook for 5 minutes.
- Pour the spinach puree and stir around, keep in mind that it will splatter, so keep the heat low and cover the pan.
- Drain the soaked paneer and add it to the pan, stir it around and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Check for salt and add any if needed.
- Sprinkle the garam masala, toss it aorund and let it simmer for 2 more minutes.
- Enjoy Palak paneer warm!