Palak Paneer is a popular main vegetarian Indian dish made of soft and luscious paneer cubes (cottage cheese) smothered in a mildly spiced and vibrantly green spinach sauce.
You won’t believe how easy it is to follow this Palak Paneer recipe and how flavorful it stays even after reheating. Serve it with fluffy Parboiled Rice or soft Butter Naan bread. The spices used are what create that distinguished mouth-watering flaour and they are easy to find in stores.
🥘 INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED
Paneer: It is cottage cheese, but they drain it for longer in India. You can get it in Indian stores. You can also make it at home using my How to Make Paneer Indian Cheese Recipe.
Spinach (palak): I have used frozen and already chopped spinach to save time yet maintain the same flavor as the original dish. If you have fresh spinach, then read the tips below.
Green chilies: Some add more chilies in palak paneer than I did; it’s up to you but try not to skip it since, besides a bit of heat, it also adds flavor. To reduce the heat of chilies, read the tips.
Heavy cream: We won’t use much of it in this recipe, but it is essential.
Ghee: Ghee is clarified butter and adds a beautiful richness to the curry. You can buy it in-store or try my recipe for making ghee here.
🔪 HOW TO MAKE
Add ghee to a pan and when hot, add the paneer and fry both sides till it’s crisp and has a golden exterior.
Fry the onion until translucent. Then add garlic, ginger, and green chilis and cook these for a minute on medium heat. Now add chopped tomatoes to the pan and cook for a few minutes.
Add all the spices and mix for a few seconds.
Squeeze out all the liquid from the spinach. Add it to the tomato and onion mixture. Cook on medium heat for three to four minutes.
Keep three tablespoons of the mixture in the pan, and scoop the rest into a blender. Add half a cup of water to the blender and blend until smooth.
Return the blended spinach mixture to the pan and cook for three minutes. Add another quarter cup of boiling water to the spinach and cook for three minutes, then add the salt and mix well.
Fenugreek adds this amazing aroma to the dish, so add the dry fenugreek leaves and cook the mixture for three minutes.
Pour cream into the mixture, and mix until it’s combined.
Add the golden pan-fried paneer from step one into the curry and cook for another two minutes.
Gently stir the curry, and you’re done! You’ll have a beautiful, rich, creamy spinach curry with homemade Indian cottage cheese ready to go!
💭 COOKING TIPS
- When you use fresh spinach, cut the stems and discard them since it gives a bitter taste.
- Blanch the fresh spinach leaves. Blanching removes the raw, bitter, and metallic flavor of spinach.
- Blanch the spinach leaves in boiling water for two to three minutes. Remove the spinach from the boiling water and immediately place it in chilled water to stop it from cooking and maintain the beautiful green color. Chop the spinach and then use it as per the recipe.
- To reduce heat from the green chilies, discard the seeds.
- Do not fry the onions until brown, or the spinach sauce won’t have a vibrant green color.
- It is best to fry the paneer. It gives it a golden color and firmer texture from the outside, so it won’t break while cooking in the sauce. However, you can skip the frying part.
- You'll get that restaurant-style palak paneer flavor by adding dry fenugreek leaves (also known as Kasuri methi in Hindi).
📖 DELICIOUS VARIATIONS
The gravy is delicious; hence, you can make variations of it and make it your own.
Make it vegan: Instead of paneer, use tofu cubes and coconut cream instead of heavy cream. Any cooking oil of your choice can replace the ghee.
Use potatoes instead of paneer: Cut the boiled and peeled potatoes into large cubes. Shallow fry them until they turn golden, and then use them in the recipe.
💬 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Palak paneer is a traditional North Indian curry made with fresh spinach, tomatoes, onions, spices, paneer, and herbs.
The difference between the two is simple: palak paneer recipe is an actual Indian dish that originated in North India and only has spinach, while saag paneer originated outside India by foreign chefs and at times they add fresh fenugreek in it.
It is a healthy dish if consumed in moderation. You can make it healthier by reducing ghee and skipping heavy cream.
Fresh large spinach leaves can be a little bitter with less flavor. Go for smaller leaves or frozen spinach.
🍲 MORE VEGETARIAN DISHES YOU'LL LOVE
If you liked my palak paneer, then you should try other amazing vegetarian dishes I have on my blog.
🌡️ STORING AND REHEATING
Fridge: Store the leftover in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.
Freezer: Follow the same steps above and place it in the freezer for up to 2 months. The paneer might turn mushy since dairy does not freeze well.
Reheating: Reheat it on the stovetop in a pan or microwave it. If frozen, place it in the fridge to thaw for safety.
Palak Paneer Recipe
- 400 gram frozen spinach
- 2 cups cubed paneer
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder optional
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 medium tomato chopped and deseeded
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 green chili deseeded and cut in half
- 2 tablespoon heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons Ghee
- In a pan, add ghee and fry the paneer until golden from both sides. Remove from heat and keep aside.
- In the remaining ghee, add the onion and cook until translucent.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and green chili, cook for a minute on medium heat.
- To the previous mixture, add the chopped tomatoes and cook for three minutes. Add all the spices and mix for a few seconds.
- Make sure to squeeze out all the liquid from the spinach and then add it to the tomato and onion mixture. Cook on medium heat for three to four minutes.
- Keep around 3 tablespoons of the mixture in the pan and scoop the rest into a blender. Add half a cup of water to the blender and blend until smooth.
- Return the blended spinach mixture to the pan and cook for three minutes. Add another quarter cup of boiling water to the spinach and cook for three minutes, then add the salt and mix well.
- Add the dry fenugreek leaves and cook for three minutes.
- Pour in the cream and mix until combined, then add the paneer and cook for two minutes.
- The mixture should look creamy, but add a little hot water and cook for a minute if it is too thick.
- Serve with rice or bread
- If using fresh spinach, cut the stems, discard them, and wash the leaves thoroughly. Place the spinach in boiling water for two to three minutes. Remove the spinach from the boiling water and immediately place it in chilled water to stop it from cooking and maintain the beautiful green color. Chop the spinach and then use it as per the recipe above.
- How to make homemade soft paneer recipe is here.
- This post was published in 2012. Updated with more information, new images, and a video.