My mom used to make the best palak paneer, but as a child I couldn’t stand it. All that spinach and fresh ginger – yuck! My dad loved his ginger and he would make mom put lots of it into the palak. Each bite I took would have at least one piece of ginger. She even made her own paneer at home. But I’m a little lazier than her and use pre-made paneer.
I love red onions. I much prefer them to white or Spanish onions. The flavour is stronger and I find them sweeter than the other onions. I use red onions for my curries because I find they help with the colour and flavour of the curry.
Most Indian curries have what we call a masala. Masala is basically a mixture of spices and it’s what gives the curry its flavour. Palak paneer needs a masala to give it the perfect flavour as well.
In a large pan, add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter – see how to make your own at home here). Toss in 1/2 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds and let them pop. Chop 1 red onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 chili pepper and toss into the pan. Grate 1 inch of ginger and toss it into the pan at the same time. Cook over medium heat for about 5 mins or till the onion starts to brown a little.
The masala for palak paneer
Once the onions have cooked, it’s time to add the dry spices to the mix. To the pan add 1 tablespoon of garam masala, 1 teaspoon of ground coriander, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon of red chili powder (optional). Add salt to taste. Mix everything well and let it cook for about a min. This allows the dry spices to release their flavour. To this you can now add 4 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook for a further 3-4 mins. For this recipe I find using tomato paste is much easier than having to cut and cook down fresh tomatoes. The recipe takes long enough as is.
You will be able to tell it’s time to add the spinach when you see that the oil is starting to separate a little from the rest of the masala.
I prefer to use frozen spinach for this recipe. Again, I find it much easier to use pre-washed, pre-cut spinach rather than having to wash it and cut it. Of course you can use fresh spinach if you prefer to do that. Add one 500 gram package of frozen spinach to the pan. Let it cook for about 2-3 mins just to allow it to thaw out.
Remove the pan from the heat and either using a hand blender, or a food processor, blend the entire batch till it’s smooth. Pureeing the spinach is what makes this dish smooth and delicious. Now you can return the pan to the stove and continue cooking for about 10 mins.
Time to add the paneer. Chop and put the paneer into the pan and let it cook for about 30 mins on low heat – stir regularly. I buy a 340 gram package of paneer and chop it into 1 inch cubes. You can either toss the paneer into the palak as it and let it cook, or you can pan fry it in a separate pan and then add it to the palak. Some people like to deep fry their paneer too. I prefer to just toss it in as it. I find frying just adds more grease to the dish.
Once it has been cooking for this long, the colour of the spinach changes from a brighter green to a more dense darker green. This means the palak paneer is almost ready to be enjoyed. This is the time when you add the 1/2 cup of heavy cream to the pan. Continue to cook for a further 10 mins. The cream is what gives the palak paneer its richness.
Ready to enjoy home made palak paneer? Serve it hot on a bed of basmati rice, or with an Indian flat bread like we do at home. Naan, paratha, or even simple roti goes perfectly with this delicious bowl or green goodness.
Indian Palak PaneerCourse: EntreeCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy
This creamy, rich, smooth palak paneer will convert any carnivore. It’s flavoured with fresh garlic, ginger, the right amount of masala and topped with cream.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) – see note
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 red onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 red chili chopped
1 inch fresh ginger grated
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 package frozen spinach (500 grams)
1 package paneer (340 grams)
1/2 cup heavy cream
- In a large pan, heat the oil and ghee together.
- Add the whole cumin seeds to the oil and let them pop.
- Add the onion, garlic, ginger and red chili to the pan. Cook for about 5 mins on low heat or till the onion starts to brown a slight bit.
- Add the garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder and chili powder to the pan. Stir well and allow to cook for 1 min.
- Add the tomato paste to the pan and cook for a further 3-4 mins or till the oil starts to separate from the paste.
- Add the frozen spinach to the pan and mix well. Cook for about 2 mins.
- Using a food processor or a blender, blend all of the spinach to a puree.
- Return it back to the pan and cook for about 10 mins on medium low heat.
- Chop the paneer into 1 inch cubes and add them to the spinach.
- Continue to cook for another 30 mins on low heat. Continue to stir regularly.
- Add the heavy cream and mix well. Continue cooking for a further 10 mins.
- Serve hot with a side of basmati rice or Indian flatbread.
- – Replace the paneer with chicken for an equally delicious dish.
– Check out other Entree recipes here.