Sneha: Palak Paneer is a very popular North Indian dish that you’ll see at almost every Indian restaurant; it is a curry of a spiced spinach purée (palak) with cubes of soft Indian cheese (paneer). Between my mom and dad, my mom crushes any and all North Indian food while my dad has his South Indian specialties (though don’t get me wrong, they both are amazing cooks across all cuisines). The exception to this rule is Palak Paneer, it has always been my dad’s thing. Over the years he has tweaked this recipe and I think this one is near perfect: you get the creaminess that you would from a restaurant style dish without the heavy cream they usually add to get that flavor. I’ve seen a couple of recipes out on the internet that even use ground up cashews for the creaminess – the trick in my dad’s recipe is the way he cooks it to bring out the creamy element!
When it comes to paneer – I typically buy Gopi brand which I’ve started noticing at large grocery stores like Price Chopper and Shaws these days in their cheese section! My mom used to make homemade paneer growing up but I haven’t given a shot at it yet! You’ll find a lot of recipes use the soft paneer just cut into blocks, my dad always deep fries the paneer to give it a good nice crispy exterior and that’s how I like it too. Its gives the dish some texture so that everything is not mushy! The spices in this dish are remarkably simple but somehow everything comes together in a perfect dish that you can eat with naan or rice!
Tips & Tricks
- While my dad will deep fry paneer, I prefer to pan fry in a couple of tablespoons of oil because you get the same crispiness with less oil and less of the splatter mess that always happens to me when I deep fry!
- Garam masala in this dish is optional – I’ve made this recipe with and without and honestly can’t pick one. If you like the warm cozy masala flavor, definitely add some but a little goes a long way!
- Prep time: 15 min
- Cook time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4-5 servings
- One bag frozen spinach
- 1/2 white onion diced
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 1 pack paneer – we used Gopi brand
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 1-2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 tsp Garam masala (optional)
- Pinch turmeric
- Salt to taste
- Cook spinach with 1/2 cup water in pressure cooker: after one whistle reduce to medium for 20 min
- Cut paneer into 1 inch cubes and sauté in a pan with several tbsp oil: you want the paneer to get a nice golden exterior, stir frequently to prevent burning
- In the same pan add a few tbsp of oil and sauté garlic, onions and spices for ~5 min until fragrant
- Add tomatoes, turn to medium and cook covered for ~10 min until tomatoes are soft – set aside to cool
- Puree tomato onion mixture in a blender and return to pan and simmer for a few minutes till it thickens
- Separately purée cooked spinach and add to tomato onion mixture and continue to simmer on medium for ~10 min until it thickens
- Add in cooked paneer and let rest for at least an hour for paneer to soak up flavors
- Serve with your favorite naan, paratha or rice!