Palak Paneer, aka Saag Paneer. One of the most famous Vegetarian North Indian curries all over the world. Learn how to make restaurant style Palak Paneer right in your kitchen. It’s so much easier than you would think to make this delicious, finger licking Indian spinach and cottage cheese curry.
Vibrant green, silky smooth, creamy spinach curry base with succulent paneer morsels floating in between. So, so good and addictively delicious with paratha, or over a bed of rice.
This is one comfort food I would like to introduced to y’all. My very favorite Palak Paneer, my style…
Yes, there are quite a few different ways and methods to make this quintessential Indian curry. Every restaurant and household would have some tricks and tips to make this just right, and everyone has their own preferences.
I am giving you my easy version of this green spinach marvel. This one has creamy, yet delicate flavors, without too many Indian spices.
In my Palak Paneer, spinach and paneer shine in their own glory, rather than being bombarded with too many spices.
Most of the Indian curries have a lot of different types of spices in good amounts. Not this one. Here they are present, subtly and not overpowering the goodness of creamy silky spinach and paneer. Just enough to make it delicious and flavorful.
What is Palak Paneer
Palak Paneer is a classic North Indian spinach curry, popular not only in India, but all over the world. This tops the vegetarian menu in most Indian restaurants.
“Palak” means spinach in Hindi, and Paneer is a famous Indian cottage cheese that goes in so many Indian dishes. These two, when paired together, create culinary magic.
The spinach is mostly blanched and cooked with a few other Indian staples, and you get a great spinach curry that is restaurant worthy.
Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer can be essentially the same dish, where Saag can be made with just spinach, or spinach mixed with some other greens like mustard greens, fenugreek leaves and a few others.
Palak Paneer Ingredients
- Spinach – We are using baby spinach today. You can use regular spinach, which is more common in India. Discard longer stems and only use the leaf portion in the case of regular spinach.
- Paneer – You can use homemade or store bought paneer. Cut the paneer into bite sized cubes.
- Ghee or butter – Ghee preferably in this dish, for authentic Indian flavors.
- Onion – We are blending onion here, so my onion phobic husband can enjoy his fav dish without picking them out of the sauce.
- Aromatics – Ginger and garlic.
- Tomatoes – Ripe and juicy is great for this recipe.
- Spices – Cumin seeds + cumin powder + garam masala powder + chili flakes + dried red whole chilis. We used stubby smaller dried chilis, but if you are using long dried red chilis like Kashmiri red chilies, cut them into smaller pieces
- Kasuri methi – It is dried fenugreek leaves, which can be bought in Indian grocery stores. This imparts great flavor and taste to any Indian dish. It’s optional here, but if you can find it, it’s worth a place in your pantry for all your Indian dishes.
- Salt – I find it the most important ingredient. You add tons of other ingredients, but less of this and it won’t be as cracker of a dish. Add in just the right amount, and your dish just gets popped up to great level. You need a good pop here in this creamy spinach puree for sure.
How to make Palak Paneer
1. Make Spinach Puree: This dish starts with making a smooth spinach sauce which is vibrant green in color.
TIP: To retain the green spinach color, blanch quickly, then immediately give it a cold water bath.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add in spinach and blanch it for 2-3 minutes, until wilted. Immediately put it in the cold water bath for a few minutes, then drain in a colander.
Alternately, you can also rinse it quickly under cold water. This avoids further cooking and retains the green color.
Transfer the spinach to a blender.
Heat 1 Tbsp ghee and sauté chopped onion for 2-3 minutes. Add in 2 chopped garlic cloves and ginger to the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes.
Transfer this to the blender with the spinach and blend it to a smooth puree. You can add a dash of water (about 1/4 cup) for smoother paste.
2. Make Curry Base: Heat ghee in a skillet over medium high heat and add in cumin seeds. Once they start sizzling, add in chopped tomatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add in remaining chopped garlic along with dried red chilis, sauté for couple of minutes. Add in salt and cumin powder and sauté till tomatoes turn into a smooth masala (about 5 minutes).
3. Add in Spinach Puree: Add prepared spinach puree to the tomato mixture and mix well. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Add in cream and garam masala powder and cook for a couple of minutes. Taste and adjust the sauce for salt. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, you can add a dash of water.
4. Finish the Curry: Add in paneer cubes and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
If using kasuri methi, rub it in your hands and sprinkle all over. Finally, add in red chili flakes and serve immediately, with garnishing of more cream.
Palak Paneer Variations
- Make it vegan: You can make Vegan Palak Paneer by replacing paneer with tofu. You can skip the cream in the end, or use cashew cream instead.
- Lasooni Palak Paneer (Garlicky Palak Paneer ): Here, there is extra tempering of lots of garlic in the end. Slice 4-5 garlic cloves into thin slivers. Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a small pan, and once it’s smoking hot add in garlic, a dash of cumin seeds, a and 1/4 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder or paprika. Cook till the garlic turns golden brown. Pour this mixture over finished palak paneer and serve.
- Some people don’t blanch and puree the spinach, instead cooking it in the sauce made with onion and tomato.
- Instead of paneer, you can add other veggies like peas, corn and potatoes.
What to Serve Palak Paneer With
Palak Paneer is usually served with any Indian bread like parathas, rotis, chapatis, puri, and so many others.
It’s great over a plateful of fresh warm basmati rice, or Saffron Rice or jeera fried rice.
Serve it with other great accompaniments, like Tomato Cucumber Raita.
Leftovers and Storing
Like any Indian food, Palak Paneer is great as a leftover, and improves in favor as it sits a few days in the refrigerator.
Store it in airtight container up to 2-3 days. Simply reheat it in the microwave, or on stovetop, before serving. You might need a splash of water if it gets too thick after refrigerating.
Palak Paneer freezes well too, up to 3-4 months for best quality. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
So, all you Palak Paneer fans, here is your delicious palak paneer recipe. Grab that big bag of spinach and some paneer from your grocery store, and make this happen tonight.
This spinach curry is one of the easiest you can cook from our Indian curries. It’s mild, it’s subtle, yet it’s jam packed with amazing flavors. Our very own Palak Paneer from the GypsyPlate kitchen… Give it some love by making and sharing it with your friends and family.
Palak Paneer, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 10-12oz spinach or baby spinach
- 12oz Paneer, cut into cubes (see note 1)
- 3 Tbsp ghee, divided
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, divided
- 1 Tbsp ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
- 3-4 dried red chilis
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala powder
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- 1/2 Tbsp kasuri methi, optional
- 1/4 cup cream
- salt to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add in spinach and blanch it for 2-3 minutes, until wilted. Immediately transfer it to a cold water bath for a few minutes, then drain in a colander. Transfer spinach to a blender.
- Heat 1 Tbsp ghee over medium high heat and sauté chopped onion for 2-3 minutes. Add in 2 chopped garlic cloves and ginger to the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Transfer onion mixture to the blender with the spinach, and blend it to a smooth puree. You can add dash of water (about 1/4 cup) for smoother paste.
- Heat remaining 2 Tbsp ghee in the skillet over medium high heat and add in cumin seeds. Once they start sizzling, add in chopped tomatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in remaining 2 chopped garlic cloves, along with dried red chilis, and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add in salt and cumin powder and sauté till the tomatoes turned into a smooth masala (about 5 minutes).
- Add prepared spinach puree to the tomato mixture and mix well. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Add in cream and garam masala powder, and cook for a couple of minutes. Taste and adjust the sauce. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, you can add a dash of water.
- Add in paneer cubes and cook for another 3-4 minutes. If using kasuri methi, rub it in your hands and sprinkle all over.
- Finally, add in red chili flakes and serve immediately with garnishing of more cream.
1. You can fry paneer cubes in a little ghee for a few minutes before adding it to the spinach gravy. (This gives a little color to the paneer, as well as gives a little different flavor and texture)
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