Palak paneer recipe – Indian cottage cheese in smooth creamy delicious spinach gravy. Palak paneer is one of the most loved North Indian dishes that’s eaten with roti, paratha, naan, Jeera rice, Ghee rice or even with plain rice. It is very easy to prepare and can be made in so many ways. This is an easy and healthy palak paneer recipe which I finally arrived at after trying so many other recipes.
In this palak paneer recipe, I have not blanched the spinach to prevent loss of nutrients. In most Indian recipes spinach is not blanched and used directly to make dal palak, spinach paratha, palak rice, spinach omelette, aloo palak and many other recipes as the nutrients are lost when blanched.
Tips to make best palak paneer
1.Blanched Vs unblanched spinach: This palak paneer is the best I have made in the years. Not blanching the spinach and frying it for a short time is what makes this delicious. However this recipe also works with blanched spinach.
I would recommend blanching, if you have been on a low oxalate diet and do not consume spinach without blanching in any other foods like dal palak or any spinach curries.
To make palak paneer, always spinach is blanched prior to making a puree. But if you are trying to make the best palak paneer, give it a try without blanching.
I am sure you will wonder how good this tastes and completely different from the one made with blanched spinach.
2.Preserving the color of palak: To get the best color, keep garam masala to minimum in this recipe and also prevent overcooking spinach which darkens the dish.
3: Smooth creamy texture: I have used few cashews to give a slightly creamy texture to the palak paneer gravy. However you can just skip them and use about 3 tbsps cream. You can also use blanched almonds.
4.Blending: I often get queries asking about the kind of blender I use to puree the ingredients. I use a regular high speed blender. You can use any smoothie blender too.
If you do not have a powerful blender, then soak the cashews for 30 in hot water and then use. This helps to get a smooth puree.
5.Paneer: Do choose good quality paneer as it is the key ingredient in this palak paneer recipe. I use this homemade paneer which is soft with a melt-in-the-mouth texture.
If using frozen store bought paneer then soak it in slightly hot water for 15 to 20 mins. Drain and use. This helps to keep it soft.
You can check more palak recipes here which I have shared on the blog.
How to choose palak to make palak paneer
- Always choose tender palak that is light to medium green in color. Dark leaves are usually less tasty.
- Do not use the stalks or stems of palak as it makes the palak paneer bitter. It also leads to metallic taste.
- I have not made this recipe with frozen spinach anytime. But a few readers have had positive results even when made with frozen spinach.
Palak paneer recipe
Palak paneer recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 1¼ cup paneer or 150 grams Indian cottage cheese
- 2 cups palak or indian spinach, tightly packed (100 grams)
- 2 tablespoons Oil or butter as needed
- 2 to 3 green chilies deseeded (less spicy kind)
- ¾ cup onions fine chopped or ½ cup paste (2 medium)
- 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste or fine chopped
- ½ cup tomatoes (deseeded & chopped) or puree (2 small)
- salt as needed
- 8 to 10 cashewnuts or blanched almonds or 3 tbsps cream
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves (skip if you don't have)
(optional) Whole spices for palak paneer
- 1/8 teaspoon cumin or jeera (optional)
- 2 green cardamoms or elaichi (optional)
- 1 inch cinnamon or dalchini (optional)
- 2 cloves or laung (optional)
How to make the recipe
Preparation for palak paneer
- Pluck only the young & tender palak leaves and discard the stems as they may leave a bitter taste.
- Add them to a large pot of water. Rinse them well few times & drain to a colander.
- Allow the water to drain completely otherwise it will let out lot of moisture while cooking.
- Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Fry green chilies and spinach for 3 to 4 mins until the leaves wilt off thoroughly & raw smell of spinach has gone away.
- OR another option is to blanch the palak in 4 cups of hot water with ¼ tsp salt for 2 mins. Then immerse in ice cold water. Drain completely.
- Cool this completely. Blend this along with cashews to a smooth puree.
- Optional: If using store bought paneer, then cube them and add to 2 cups hot water. Keep these immersed for 20 mins. Drain and use. Or you can also fry the paneer in 1 tsp oil for 2 mins and then add it to the hot water.
How to make palak paneer
- Heat 1.5 tbsp oil in a pan and fry cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves & cumin until they sizzle.
- Then add onions and fry till they turn transparent to golden.
- Next fry ginger garlic paste until the raw smell goes away.
- Then fry tomatoes with some salt until they break down and turn mushy.
- Add kasuri methi & garam masala. Saute until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. (for a smoother curry refer notes)
- Pour half cup water and cook until the mixture thickens.
- Lower the flame, add the pureed spinach.
- Mix well and cook until it begins to bubble for about 2 to 3 mins.
- Avoid overcooking. Add paneer & mix well.
- If using cream pour it now. Switch off. Serve palak paneer with naan, roti or rice.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
- For a smoother gravy, after sauteing the onion and tomatoes with garam masala cool it & blend to a smooth puree with ½ to ¾ cup water. Cook this until you see traces of oil. When the gravy thickens add the palak puree.
- Avoid using stalks & stems of spinach as they may lend a bitter taste. Cut off each stem from the leaves.Overcooking palak can leave a bitter taste.
- You can use more spinach if you like.
If you are a beginner or new to Indian cooking, I highly suggest you to check the supporting step by step photos for best results. Step by step photos with description available below after the recipe card.
1. Avoid using stems or stalks of palak as they make the gravy bitter. Use only young and fresh spinach. Wash cleaned palak thoroughly in a large pot filled with water. I also sprinkle vinegar and salt to remove the pesticide residue. Rinse a few times more. Drain off the water completely.
If you are on a low oxalate diet then you can blanch the spinach by following the steps mentioned in the recipe card above.
2. This step is optional. Heat a pan with 1 tsp oil and saute paneer just for 2 to 3 mins. You can add them to warm water and leave for 10 to 15 mins to keep them soft. Drain and set aside. I do not add to water.
3. To the same pan add another tsp oil, then saute green chilies and palak on a medium heat.
4. Switch off when the leaves wilt off. This takes only 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overcook, spinach takes only 2 to 3 mins to cook. If there is any stock of spinach left, you can use up. You need not evaporate it.
5. Cool it completely. Add to a blender with green chilies. We are not going to use red chilli powder, so the heat comes only from green chilies. Mine were not hot, so I used 3. You can also add 8 to 10 cashews at this stage to make creamy palak paneer.
6. Make a smooth paste. Set aside.
7. Heat oil in a pan or pot. Add cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and jeera as well. Do not skip the dry spices as we are not going to use much garam masala in powder form which helps to retain a good color.
8. Add onions or onion paste. Fry until golden.
9. Add ginger garlic paste or garlic paste alone. Fry until the raw smell goes off.
10. Add deseeded tomatoes or tomato puree and salt.
11. When the tomatoes turn fully mushy, add crushed kasuri methi and garam masala. You can also add kasuri methi later along with pureed palak.
12. Saute until the masala smells good for 2 to 3 mins or until it begins to leave the sides of the pan.
13. Add half cup water and cook on a medium heat.
14. When the gravy thickens, lower the flame completely. Next add the puree.
15. Mix it well and cook until it begins to bubble just for about 2 mins. I do not suggest cooking for long at this stage as it discolors the gravy.
How to make palak paneer
16. Add the paneer. Mix well. Switch off the stove.
17. If using cream pour it now. You can skip cream is you have used cashews while pureeing the spinach.
Serve palak paneer with rice, roti or paratha.