Palak Paneer in a thick paste made from puréed spinach and seasoned with ginger, garlic, onion, tomato, and other spices. Most of the time people get confused between Saag paneer and Palak paneer, but the two dishes actually use different types of greens. Saag refers to all leafy green vegetables, a true saag curry includes individually or a blend of mustard greens, bathua, fenugreek leaves, mustard greens, turnip, radish leaves as well as spinach leaves. Palak is the Hindi word for spinach. Whereas Palak Paneer refers to a curry made with spinach leaves only.
It is quite a staple in India, yet it’s so easy for something to go wrong. It’s all about the balance with this one. And the punch of tempering or tadka at the end gives it a restaurant-style taste which you will be missing while making it at home. Do not skip the tadka you will be rewarded with the classic Palak Paneer that all Punjabis swear by.
You can use frozen spinach instead of fresh. Some people like to saute the paneer before adding it to the gravy but I prefer this version where the creaminess of the spinach matches the softness of the paneer. My kid doesn’t like palak, but whenever I make this version of palak with paneer or palak thepla he eats with heart. He likes to eat this creamy and flavorful curry with rice. I feel so overwhelmed whenever he eats healthy food and says Mumma it’s Yummy.
Serve this creamy, flavorful, healthy curry hot with naan, paratha, roti or rice.
Level: Beginners (Easy) ∏ Measurement: 1 Cup ≡ 250 ml ≡ 250gm
For Palak Paneer
How to make Palak Paneer:
Step1: Rinse the palak or spinach leaves very well in running water, Discard the very thick ends. Reserve 5-6 spinach leaves for later use. To a pot of boiling water, add a little salt and then spinach leaves to it. Blanch the spinach leaves for 2 to 3 minutes until wilted.
Step2: Remove and transfer immediately into ice-cold water. Just add 6-7 cubes to 3 cups water to get cold water. Allow the spinach leaves to be in the cold water for a minute. This is done so that the dish has a nice green color and it is a healthy practice as well.
Step3: Add the spinach in a blender or grinder jar along with half of the chopped ginger, garlic cloves and 1 green chilli. Puree to a smooth paste and set aside. Do not add water while blending it. Remaining ginger garlic and chilly we will crush in mortar pestle (This is totally optional but will give a nice flavor to the dish)
Step4: In a mortar pestle add and crush ginger, garlic and chilly.
Step5: Heat a large pan on low-medium heat, add 2 teaspoon ghee, then add bay leaf, cumin seeds, asafoetida, clove, black peppercorn and let them splutter.
Step6: Now add crushed ginger, garlic, green chilly, and slit chilies along with a pinch of asafoetida. Stir for a minute until the raw fragrance of garlic goes off and garlic turns light brown in colour.
Step7: Add finely chopped onion. Try to cut onion as fine as possible. On medium flame saute till the onions turn translucence and become golden brown in colour.
Step8: In the meanwhile, take a small tadka pan and dry roast coriander seeds on low flame. Once they change the colour and developed a cooked aroma take them out and let it cool down properly.
Step9: Put them in a mortar pestle or a spice mill and crush them to a powder. Added dry-toasted and crushed coriander powder will add the extra flavor to this dish.
Step10: Once the onion turns golden brown, add spices such as turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder. Mix everything well and saute it for 1 min on low-medium flame.
Step11: To make it a restaurant-style do add Kasuri methi (or dry fenugreek leaves). Before adding Kasuri methi, crush them lightly between your palms, this will enhance the fragrance.
Step12: Add finely chopped tomatoes and stir till they turn soft and mushy.
Step13: Add 1/4 cup of water and salt as per taste, mix everything well and cook it for 3-4 min or until it begins to leave the sides of the pan.
Step14: In the meanwhile, finely chop the spinach leaves. Try to chop as fine as possible. So that you will get the taste of spinach and not the big leaves in your mouth.
Step15: Now add them in the masala paste. Stir well. Adding fine spinach along with spinach puree will give a nice texture to the dish.
Step16: Now add the crushed coriander powder. Since the coriander is already roasted that’s the reason we are adding it now.
Step17: Add 1/4 cup water or as required, stir everything well.
Step18: Add 2 teaspoon cream, and mix it with the onion-tomato mixture.
Step19: Next add in the blanched pureed spinach and mix. Spinach is pre-cooked. It’s already blanched and pureed so we don’t have to cook it too much. Cook it just till the masala is fully incorporated in the spinach puree. Keep stirring. Add a pinch of nutmeg powder and 1 drop of kewra water.
Step20: Do not cover the pan otherwise, the spinach will lose its bright colour. The spinach will bubble a lot. Stir at regular intervals to avoid sticking at the bottom. Patiently keep stirring the gravy until the rawness of the spinach goes away. After stirring for 3-4 mins the oil will separate and the oil will come on the top. Adjust salt and give a nice stir.
Step21: Stir again and then add the paneer cubes. I have added the paneer cubes directly to the gravy. But you can also lightly fry or saute the paneer cubes till they lightly browned and then add them to the palak gravy.
Step22: Mix everything well, sprinkle garam masala and allow it to cook for another a minute. Then turn off the flame. Palak paneer is ready. Now we will prepare the tadka for it.
Step23: Heat 1 teaspoon ghee in a tadka pan, add cumin seeds, red chili, garlic, ginger julienne. Roast it for 1min on low-medium flame till the garlic becomes light brown and crunchy. Turn off the flame and add red chili powder and crushed Kasuri methi.
Step24: Pour the tempering along with ghee over the cooked palak paneer for extra flavour. Add more cream if required.
Step25: Garnish with ginger julienne and fresh cream. Serve palak paneer hot with naan or roti or rice.
Use good quality soft paneer, better to use homemade paneer and fresh tender spinach leaves.
Kasuri methi, nutmeg powder and kewra water can be avoided, but the combination of it will give this dish a unique flavor.
Do not overcook paneer.
If you don’t want to add cream, you can also use yogurt or milk in place.
If the spinach is a little bitter, use some extra cream or sugar to cut the bitterness.
If you like, you can pan-fry the paneer cubes (until golden brown) before adding them to the curry.
To get the bright green colour, use less garam masala and also avoid over-cooking the puree. Do not cover the pan.