Mar 21, 2014

Palak Paneer ( Spinach cooked with Indian Cottage Cheese)

Hello everyone...hope you are all doing great! Things are going as usual at my end with office work, baby chores, home chores, cooking as usual, experimenting now and then with new dishes/bakes and yes, eating out and having fun with friends whenever we can. The climate's slowly getting better. We actually went for a short walk yesterday with Manish and my lil'guy  and though it was still slightly cold, it felt sooooo good to see what our neighborhood looks like after almost 6 months of chilling hibernation. I can't get enough of it and I just want it to be nice and warm soon and be out and about all the time :-D

Now coming to Palak Paneer.....who hasn't heard of this internationally famous dish? It's one of 'THE' most popular and commonly served vegetarian dishes in most Indian restaurants that I've been to and although it looks too green and kinda resembles baby food from some angles, due to the pureed spinach...hehe!...this dish is simply awesome! 
For a person who isn't a huge fan of spinach (except baby spinach) this is one dish I can wipe clean off my plate. It's so damn easy to prepare and did I mention it has creamy Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) in it, what's not to like about it then?!

Inspite of it not being my favorite green we buy it very often and it's a must in our grocery shopping list of 'veggies-to-buy'. I usually prepare thoran just like my turnip greens thoran or else sneak them inside omlettes etc. But making palak paneer is my most favorite option.

I have prepared palak paneer several times and the one thing I have observed is that it tastes great if the dish isn't overly spiced. Just a subtle hint of spice makes the dish's flavor shine out. And the masala made with onions-ginger-garlic-greenchillies-tomato gets a good smooth texture if minced very finely, unless you plan to puree it all with the spinach (like how I do usually).
For the Paneer, I buy frozen store bought paneer and they taste just fine to me, but you can definitely make your own. I prefer creamier chunks of paneer contrary to the fried pieces that's usually added, to avoid breaking the paneer pieces, but that's a personal choice and a better choice when making in large quantities for a party or potluck where there's more chance of the paneer crumbling up with too much stirring. When fried they hold their shape.

Palak Paneer is so easy and simple to prepare and you hardly need any fancy ingredients. It's best served with plain rice, jeera rice, naan or roti. I prepared some simple Jeera Rice with the jeera (cumin seeds) sauted in some butter for some flavor and served it with the palak paneer. The combo was so delicious that my lil'Appu also ate up his whole plate.

My recipe is very simple and so quick to prepare and as I said, very mild on the spices, so it's just perfect for feeding little kids as well and yet not at all compromising on the flavor. Manish really loved it and we finished the whole dish in two days :-)
I did not have coriander powder at home the day I made it and still it tasted great, which is why I have mentioned it as an optional ingredient. I bet it would taste twice as good with a little extra flavor from the coriander powder as well!

Palak Paneer

You'll Need
Fresh Spinach (chopped) - 2 bunches of spinach (as found in Indian stores) or 6 cups approx
Paneer- 8oz (cut into cubes)
Oil – 1tblsp + 2tblsp
Onions – 1 medium (diced finely)
Ginger – 1" pc, minced
Garlic – 4 cloves, minced
Green Chillies - 1 or 2, minced
Tomatoes – 1 large, chopped up  
Garam Masala - 2 tsp
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp (optional)
Red Chili Powder – a pinch or to taste
Salt - to taste
Heavy Whipping Cream – 6 tblsp or to taste
Hot Water - as needed

1. Wash well and pat dry the fresh spinach leaves with a clean kitchen towel. Cut into smaller pieces.
2. Heat a non-stick skillet and add 1 tblsp oil and saute the spinach leaves until cooked through and soft. Allow to cool down and keep aside.
3. In the same non-stick skillet add 2 tblsp oil and add the minced onion and cook until it's pink and soft.
4. Then add ginger-garlic and saute for few minutes. Finally put in the tomatoes and cook until the oil starts to release from the sides and makes a fine masala. Let this also cool down.
5. Now take the cooked spinach along with the  masala and blend it into a fine puree.
6. Add this puree into the skillet and add the spice powders - garam masala, turmeric powder, coriander powder (if using), and a pinch of red chilli powder and salt, give it a stir and cook on medium-low heat for 5 mins.
7. If gravy is too thick add some hot water (1 tblsp at a time) until desired consistency is obtained and cook it until it simmers slightly.
8. Now keep the heat on low and add in about 6 tblsp of cream (heavy whipping cream) and stir it well.
9. Finally add in the paneer and gently stir it around and turn off the heat and serve hot!

1. I prefer a smooth & creamy (non-chunky) gravy so I puree the whole batch of spinach and masala, but if you prefer a chunkier version, only puree the spinach and leave the masala as it is at step #5.
2. Adding hot water at step #7 is to reduce the cooking time needed. If we add cold or room temp water cooking time will increase.
3. For a healthier option you can substitute Heavy cream with Milk. 

Other options:
1. Another way of cooking the spinach leaves is to blanch the leaves...i.e. Cook the leaves in a vessel of boiling hot water for 2-3 mins and quickly transfer the leaves to a bowl full of ice water. This will shock the leaves and quickly stop the cooking process and also provide a beautiful bright green color for the dish. 
2. You can shallow fry the paneer on both sides in oil. Drain them on paper towels and add the fried paneer into a bowl of cold water. Squeeze out any excess water before adding it to the gravy. This will keep the paneer soft yet less prone to breaking up.
3. For Vegan options substitute Paneer with Tofu and Heavy cream or Milk with Soy Milk or Almond Milk. 
4. Can use baby spinach or frozen spinach instead of fresh spinach.

This is one of my favorite ways to eat spinach and apparently my lil'Appu too doesn't mind eating Green rice ;-) I usually mix his rice with the palak paneer making his rice look all green before I give it him....that way he has no choice of eating only the white rice and has to eat everything and it definitely tastes better too. Clever huh!

Do try out Palak Paneer sometime and you'll see why it's such a commonly served dish at parties and at restaurants and inspite of the richness from the cream and paneer its a very healthy dish as well.



  1. Wow looks creamy and inviting.. love it :)

  2. Looks so creamy and delicious Manju... I could finish that off all by myself :-)

  3. Wow mouth waterng palak paneer and jeera rice . love it

  4. I adore spinach.. this look like a dish I can enjoy with a big plate of rice. :)

  5. I love palak paneer.... your looks perfectly done and perfectly green!! Love the pics Manju.. Great Job!

  6. Looks so perfect... I had made it once, but was not well received! :( Maybe I must try your method...

  7. Delicious palak paneer, looks mouthwatering..

  8. One of my favorite paneer dishes. Lovely pics.

  9. Bowl of healthy and nutritious palak paneer, u have done just prefectly..Beautiful clicks.

  10. Turned out well and easy to make. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. tried an turned out really well, even without cream its very yummy! thanks for posting! already recommended to friends! :)


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