This Palak Paneer Recipe is a flavorful concoction of Indian spices with spinach and paneer cheese.
Did you know that to make a Vegetarian Palak Paneer is actually quite easy?
I have put together a delicious recipe with useful how-to instructions to make palak paneer from scratch at home.
You will succeed even if you have never cooked Indian food before!
What is Palak Paneer?
Palak Paneer is a hearty and nutritious dish that originated in Punjab, a region in North India.
It is made with finely-chopped fresh spinach, generously-sized cubes of homemade paneer (a fresh cottage cheese) and topped with blobs of delicious melting village butter.
In Punjabi roadside dhabas, palak paneer is usually served with several crisp rotis (flatbread), but it is also eaten with a serving of steamed rice all over India.
This dish is a nutritional delight as it combines the fresh goodness of spinach and the protein of milky paneer.
It is usually served mildly spiced and is suitable for even the most sensitive
palates. It is creamy, delicious, and satisfying!
The dish is quick and easy to make and can be easily made into a one-pot-meal.
It stores and reheats well and can be made in advance.
Palak paneer vs saag paneer
Palak paneer has a cousin: saag paneer.
“Saag” means "greens" in Hindi and this dish can be made from a variety of greens grown in India, such as mustard greens, amaranth leaves, fenugreek leaves, or even a mixture of several greens, including spinach.
But if a dish is only made with spinach and no other greens, it is called palak paneer.
Note about Paneer
Paneer is the king of Indian vegetarian cuisine and loved by everyone.
It is made by a simple process of boiling whole milk and curdling it with an acid (lemon juice or vinegar) and then collecting the resulting curds (chenna) and pressing them to result in a solid, yet soft block of cottage cheese.
It can easily be made at home.
The unpressed curds are also used in a variety of Indian sweet preparations ranging from delicate Bengali rasgulla to fragrant gulab jamun, and saffron-flavored rasmalai.
- Paneer - fresh would be best, but you can use frozen paneer as well
- Spinach - fresh would be best, but you can use frozen spinach as well
- Spices - ground cumin, ground coriander, ground garam masala, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper
- Green chilies
- Cream (dairy or coconut)
- Tomato sauce
How to make it?
Here is a quick overview on how to make this spinach paneer from scratch.
The complete recipe with measurements is located further below in the recipe card.
Blend the washed and blanched spinach in a blender with green chilies and a bit of water.
In a pan, fry the chopped onions and remaining spices and add the tomato paste.
Add the blended spinach, mix it well and cook the mixture on a low fire.
When the spinach mixture is cooked, add the cream and the paneer cubes in the end and stir gently so that the paneer does not break.
Serve with rotis or ever steamed rice.
For an authentic Dhaba-style Punjabi meal, serve the palak paneer with crisp and steaming rotis or naan.
Other dishes that would complement palak paneer well would be rajma (stewed red beans) or butter chicken.
Don’t forget to add a glass of delicately spiced lassi (buttermilk) to accompany the meal and lend it more North Indian flavor.
A simple salad of thinly sliced vegetables such as fresh tomato, cucumber, carrot, and radish and a small bowl of Indian pickles would complete the meal and turn it into a feast.
Serve some delicious Indian sweets at the end to round out this rich culinary experience.
Palak paneer can be easily stored in an air-tight container for 2-3 days in the fridge.
As it heats up well, it is also possible to freeze it in batches for later use.
It can be thawed and reheated in the microwave, but the paneer might lose its firmness.
In this recipe, paneer can be easily substituted by extra-firm tofu. Haloumi could also be a decent substitute, but it is firmer and chewier than paneer. As halloumi is naturally, quite salty, you will need to be careful with the salt amount in the dish and adjust it accordingly.
Palak paneer can be made vegan by using extra-firm tofu or vegan halloumi. Or you could experiment and make vegan paneer from coconut milk. The cream in the recipe can be substituted by coconut cream or any other vegan cream options. You can also use chunks of starchy potato in the same recipe and turn it into aloo palak (potato spinach).
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Note: The Post, Palak Paneer Recipe, was first published on the 1st November 2013 and has been enhanced and updated ever since.
Palak Paneer Recipe
- 8.8 ounces Spinach
- 1 Green Chili fresh
- ½ cup Water
- 1 small Onion chopped
- 1-2 Tablespoon Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Cumin ground
- 1 Teaspoon Coriander Seeds ground
- pinch Cinnamon ground
- ½ Tablespoon Garam Masala
- ½ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper ground
- 1 Tablespoon Tomato Puree
- 2 Tablespoon Cream
- few drops Green Food Coloring optional
- Salt to taste
- Black Pepper to taste
- 7 ounces Paneer aka Indian Cottage Cheese, *see Notes
- Wash your Spinach leaves well.
- Blanch the Spinach in some boiling water for 30 seconds and then add them to a blender jar with green chili (stem removed, keep the seeds) and water. Blend the whole content well so that no pieces are left, it should be smooth. Keep aside.
- Heat up a pan with the oil and fry your chopped onion translucent for a few minutes stirring frequently. Add the garlic and stir cook for another minute, then throw in the cumin powder, coriander powder, cinnamon powder, garam masala and cayenne powder. Stir fry for another minute.
- Continue to add in the tomato paste and stir fry quickly, then take down the heat
- Pour in the smooth spinach mass and mix everything well.
- Continue to add the liquid cream and at this point, you can even add a few drops of green food coloring (Restaurant style with green coloring). Season with salt and pepper and let it cook for 10 minutes on a medium to slow heat. If you feel the whole mixture is getting too thick after 5 minutes cooking, then add a little bit water.
- At the end add in the bite-size paneer cubes and mix the whole content. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Once the paneer is in, try to not stir too much anymore. The Paneer may break into little bits (that happens mostly with frozen paneer) and you want the cubes to be whole.
- Serve hot with roti or basmati rice.
- You can use fresh or frozen Paneer.