Palak Paneer is a popular Indian dish made with cubes of Indian cottage cheese in a mild and spicy spinach sauce. This delicious creamy dish is made with fresh spinach leaves, herbs, onions, paneer, spices and tomatoes.
About this recipe
This delicious palak paneer recipe is how my mom always made it for our family. For years, she has been making this recipe, passed it on to me and now I am so happy to share it here.
This is one of the most popular and beloved paneer recipes on the blog as well as our favorite around the house.
I show the spinach blanching method in my palak paneer recipe. This is done so that the dish has a nice green color and also remain a healthy practice.
I always recommend blanching spinach before preparing any dish where spinach leaves are used in large quantities and where a puree is made from them.
This delicious palak paneer goes well with naan, paratha, roti or tandoori roti. Or serve it with biryani or jeera rice, saffron or ghee rice.
Palak Paneer vs. Saag Paneer
Palak paneer and saag paneer are usually considered the same dish, but they are not. Palak paneer is the actual Indian dish made with spinach puree only, whereas the saag paneer is made with various greens mixture.
Saag paneer seems to have been popularized outside of India, but it is still very rare in India.
In Punjabi or Hindi, the word “saag” means greens. Various leafy vegetables fall under this category of “saag”, such as amaranth leaves, dill leaves, mustard leaves, radish leaves, spinach, fenugreek leaves and purslane.
My mother-in-law never makes saag paneer, but there are four variations of palak or spinach saag that she makes.
One is made with mung lentils (palak mung dal), another with potatoes (aloo palak), the third with paneer – commonly known as palak paneer and the fourth with split chickpeas (chana dal palak).
Technically, saag paneer is a dish where saag is made first by combining 2-3 types of green vegetables. Then the paneer is added to the mashed greens.
Although they are different dishes, palak paneer and saag paneer are both healthy and delicious.
Also Read: Paneer Butter Masala
How to make Palak Paneer
Blanch the spinach
1. Using a colander, rinse the 250 grams or 0.55 pounds of palak or spinach leaves, very well under running water.
2. Boil 3 cups of water in a saucepan, microwave or electric heater. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt to hot water and stir. Then add the spinach leaves to hot water. For about 1 minute, let the spinach leaves sit in the water. If you are doing this on a stovetop, be sure to remove the pan from the hot burner.
3. After 1 minute, filter the spinach leaves.
4. Immediately add the palak or spinach leaves to a saucepan or bowl with ice water. This will help preserve the green color of spinach. Just add 8-10 ice cubes to 3 cups of water to get cold water. Leave the spinach leaves in cold water for a minute.
5. Then drain the ice water. Add the spinach to a blender or jar with 1 inch of chopped ginger, 1 or 2 chillies (green peppers), and 1 or 2 small to medium garlic cloves. You can also use a manual immersion blender to prepare the mash.
6. Make a creamy spinach purée. No need to add water when making mash. Reserve the spinach puree.
7. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil (or ghee or butter) in a saucepan or kadai (wok). Here I used butter. If you’re using butter, melt it over low heat, making sure it doesn’t brown.
8. Add ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds and let them splash.
9. Then add a small to medium tej patta (Indian bay leaf).
10. Add ⅓ cup finely chopped onion (1 small to medium onion).
11. Sauté until the onions turn golden.
12. Then add 1 teaspoon of garlic (finely chopped). Sauté until the raw aroma of the garlic is gone. No need to brown the garlic.
13. Add ⅓ cup chopped tomatoes (1 small or medium tomato).
14. Stir and sauté the tomatoes until softened.
15. Once the tomatoes are softened and the fat comes off the sides of the mixture, add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon of red chili powder (or cayenne pepper or paprika) and a small pinch of asafoetida (hing). You can find asafoetida in your local spice store or on Amazon, but if you don’t have it, you can ignore it.
16. Mix very well.
Making palak paneer
17. Then add the palak puree (spinach).
18. Mix well.
19. Add about ½ cup of water or as needed. Mix and stir again.
20. Simmer the sauce for 6 to 7 minutes or more until the palak (spinach) is cooked. Season with salt. The sauce or gravy will also have thickened by now.
21. Stir and add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of garam masala powder.
22. Stir again and then add 200 to 250 grams of paneer cubes (cottage cheese). I added the paneer cubes directly to the sauce. But you can also fry the paneer cubes in oil until little browned, then add them to the palak sauce. In this case, you do not need to bake the panel further.
23. Mix very well and turn off the heat.
24. Finally add 2 tablespoons of low fat cream. I used Amul brand cream. If you are using heavy whipping cream, add 1 tbsp. You can also add 1 teaspoon of crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) at this step, but this is optional.
25. Stir gently so that the cream is incorporated evenly into the sauce.
26. Serve the palak paneer hot with roti, naan or paratha or cumin rice or ghee rice. You can also garnish it with butter or cream while serving. Sprinkle a few drops of lime or lemon juice with a julienned ginger.