Made using Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese) and Spinach puree, this restaurant-style Palak Paneer Curry is a delight to eat with any Indian bread. Make it at home using my simple recipe.
About This Recipe
Palak is spinach and Paneer is Indian cottage cheese, and the combination of both in a delicious gravy is called Palak Paneer. It is a Punjabi bright green curry with blanched and pureed spinach as its base and paneer cubes simmered in it along with a few spices.
If you want to make it richer, you can add some fresh cream to it. The recipe I have shared have 350 Kcal per portion. You can make it healthier by replacing cream with yogurt or cashew cream.
Spinach – You will need palak or spinach leaves to make this dish. Try to use fresh and small leaves. The quality of palak makes a lot of difference in the taste of this dish. While our stay in the US, I used to make this curry using the frozen spinach from Costco and it worked just fine.
Paneer – You can get paneer or Indian cottage cheese in any Indian store. In fact, a lot of regular grocery stores in the US also carry paneer these days. To make this curry vegan, replace paneer with tofu.
Lemon Juice – Adding lemon juice at the end makes sure the iron from spinach is absorbed by the body. So make sure to add it.
Spices – You will also need basic spices like cumin seeds, dry red chillies, coriander powder and garam masala powder.
Others – Onion, tomato, ginger, and garlic are also required to make this recipe.
Adding a little cream at the end makes this dish very tempting. If you want to make vegan version, replace fresh cream with greek yogurt, almond cream or cashew cream. This version will be healthier too.
You can also replace paneer with chickpeas or corn.
Step by Step Recipe
Blanch – Heat water in a large pot. Clean the spinach and wash it thoroughly under running water. Once the water comes to a boil, add the cooking soda and spinach and blanch the spinach for 3-4 minutes. You can also add a tsp of sugar in the water to get a bright green color of spinach.
Drain the water and run the spinach under cold water immediately.
Puree – Put the spinach a blender along with green chillies and make a smooth paste.
Make sure the paste is smooth before you proceed to use it.
Make the Curry– Heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add cumin seeds and dried red chillies. Let them crackle for a few seconds.
Add onion and garlic and fry until onion turns translucent.
Add tomato and cook for 3-4 minutes. You can blend the masala at this stage for a creamier gravy.
Add coriander powder, garam masala powder and fry for another minute.
Add spinach puree and saute on high heat for a minute.
Now add paneer, salt, and 1/2 cup water and bring the curry to a boil.
Switch off the heat and add lemon juice and fresh cream and mix well.
Smoking The Curry – To get a restaurant like smoky flavor, you can give a Dhungar to the curry. For the Dhungar, heat a coal piece until it is red hot. Keep a bowl inside the bowl with curry and keep the piece of coal on top of it. Pour a tsp of ghee on top of the coal and immediately close the lid of the main bowl. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
Open the lid, remove the coal piece and the small bowl, and give the curry a gentle mix. Garnish the Palak Paneer with Fresh Cream. Serve hot with Naan or Phulke.
You can refrigerate it for 2-3 days in airtight containers.
If you want to freeze this dish, don’t add cream and paneer cubes at the end. Just freeze the gravy in freezer-safe containers.
When you are ready to serve, thaw the gravy for 3-4 hours. Then re-heat until nicely warmed. Now add fresh cream and paneer cubes and cook for another minute. You can also make the curry and refrigerate it for 2-3 days. Add the paneer cubes once you are ready to serve.
You can actually serve it with any Indian bread or even include them in your festive meals along with your choice of Dal, Pulao, and Roti.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cleaning the greens, especially if you live in India is a challenge. The greens come directly from the farms, which is a very good thing but they are full of mud and dirt. So we have to make sure they are cleaned very nicely before cooking.
To clean the greens well, fill a large pot with water. Soak the greens in water for 5 minutes. The dirt will settle down. Now very gently remove the greens from the top and discard the water. Repeat this process 2-3 times.
In Palak Paneer, only spinach is used in the gravy while in Saag Paneer, other greens like mustard greens, fenugreek leaves, etc are also used along with spinach.
There is a similar Kashmiri dish called Methi Chaman. It has spinach and methi as the base gravy ingredients. Fried paneer cubes are added to it later.
I make Palak Paneer quite often at home and when making it for regular everyday meals, I prefer this version which requires very less oil as compared to the restaurant-style one and is quite healthy to eat on a regular basis.
To make it, blanch the spinach and puree the spinach as mentioned in the process below. Now heat 1 tbsp ghee or oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add hing and cumin seeds.
Once they start to crackle, add tomato puree, and cook for a few minutes. Now add coriander powder and red chilli powder and spinach puree. Cook for another minute and then add paneer cubes. Cook for a minute and a very simple home-style palak paneer is ready in no time.
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Palak Paneer Recipe
- 200 g Spinach
- 1/4 tsp Baking soda
- 2-3 Green chilli
- 4 tbsp Vegetable oil
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 3-4 Dry red chillies
- 1 cup Onion (Finely chopped)
- 5-6 cloves Garlic (Crushed)
- 1 cup Tomato (Finely chopped)
- 2 tsp Coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp Garam masala powder
- Salt to taste
- 2 tsp Lemon juice
- 2 tbsp Fresh cream
- 200 g Paneer
- Heat water in a large pot.
- Clean the spinach and wash it thoroughly under running water.
- Once the water comes to a boil, add the cooking soda and spinach and blanch the spinach for 3-4 minutes.
- Drain the water and run the spinach under cold water immediately.
- Put the spinach a blender along with green chillies and make a smooth paste.
- Heat oil in a pan.
- Once the oil is hot, add cumin seeds and dried red chillies.
- Let them crackle for a few seconds.
- Add onion and garlic and fry until onion turns translucent.
- Add tomato and cook for 3-4 minutes. You can blend the masala in a blender at this stage for a creamier gravy.
- Now add coriander powder, garam masala powder and fry for another minute.
- Add spinach puree and saute on high heat for minute.
- Add paneer, salt and 1/2 cup water and bring the curry to a boil.
- Switch off the heat and add lemon juice and mix well.
- For the Dhungar, heat a coal piece until it is red hot. Keep a bowl inside the bowl with curry and keep the piece of coal on top of it. Pour a tsp of ghee on top of the coal and immediately close the lid of the main bowl.
- Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Open the lid, remove the coal piece and the small bowl and give the curry a gentle mix.
- Garnish the Palak Paneer with Fresh Cream.
- Serve hot with Naan or Phulke.