Soft, succulent paneer cubes dunked in smooth, luscious spinach gravy is perfect for healthy delicious lunch or dinner. It can be enjoyed with Indian breads like chapatis (roti), naan or steamed jeera (cumin) rice.
In this post, I have shared a quick yet easy method to make restaurant style palak paneer at home. When it comes to Indian paneer recipes, the list is endless with paneer butter masala, shahi paneer, kadhai paneer etc but my favourite will always be palak paneer as along with being yummy, flavour packed, it is healthy too.
The palak paneer recipe shared here is :
- Gluten free
- Nutritious & yummy
- Can be made vegan (no dairy)
Palak or spinach always reminds me of the cartoon character ‘Popeye’; how he used to gulp the entire tin of spinach & got those herculean muscles in no time, to save ‘Olive’ from ‘Pluto’ the villain. I think almost every mother has taken the help of popeye character to make their kids eat spinach.
What is the meaning of Palak Paneer?
Palak is called spinach in english and the term paneer refers to Indian cottage cheese made by curdling milk with some vinegar or lemon juice. If you want to make this recipe vegan (dairy free), use tofu instead of paneer.
To make palak paneer we prepare a smooth gravy using spinach puree, onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic & few spices. In this gravy, we add chopped paneer cubes & simmer for some time. To add richness & creaminess to palak paneer some heavy cream is added. If you are calorie conscious, you can use low fat cream or milk.
Some people like to sauté or deep fry paneer before adding it to the gravy but I like to add them as it is. You can use store bought or fresh homemade paneer to make palak paneer.
How to make vegan palak paneer ?
You can make palak paneer vegan (dairy free), by using tofu instead of paneer. In place of cream, use coconut milk or cashew cream. Cashew Cream is made by soaking cashews in hot water for 10 minutes & then blending it with water to get smooth silky creamy texture. Rest of the recipe & method will remain the same.
Difference between saag paneer & palak paneer:
People often get confused with saag paneer & palak paneer as they look the same. However the main difference between the two is in the kind of leafy greens used in making them. Saag is made by using a combination of mustard greens (sarson), collard greens, chenopodium (bathua), spinach whereas palak paneer is made by using spinach only.
More recipes with spinach (palak):
- Dal Palak (Spinach Lentils)
- Palak Methi Paratha (Spinach Flatbread)
- Spinach Corn Appe
- Cheesy Spinach Corn Sandwiches
I have shared more tips at the end of post, do check them out. Hope you will like this easy palak paneer recipe.
- Spinach Leaves (Palak) – 500 grams (17 oz)
- Paneer / Tofu – 200 grams
- Oil / Ghee – 2 tbsp
- Ginger – 1 inch piece
- Green Chillies – 2
- Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1 tsp
- Whole Dried Red Chilli- 1
- Garlic (minced)- 2 to 3 cloves
- Onion (finely chopped) – 1 small
- Tomatoes (blended) – 2 small
- Turmeric (haldi)- 1/2 tsp
- Red Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Coriander Powder- 1 tsp
- Salt – 1 tsp (or to taste)
- Heavy Cream / Cashew Cream- 2 tbsp
- Water – For cooking
Wash the palak leaves well under running water to get rid of dirt.
Take water in a deep pan & bring it to rolling boil. Once the water starts boiling, add palak leaves to it. Boil it for 3-4 minutes.
Immediately, transfer these leaves in ice cold water for 5 minutes. This stops the cooking of spinach leaves any further.
Add these blanched palak in a blending jar with ginger & deseeded green chilli. Blend well to get smooth puree. Add little bit water if required. Keep it aside.
In a pan, heat oil or ghee. Add cumin( jeera), finely chopped garlic and onions. Sauté 1-2 minutes.
Add all the spices except garam masala and sauté for 20-30 seconds.
Now add freshly pureed tomatoes, salt and let the mixture cook on medium low flame till you see fat starting to separate from the mixture.
Add spinach puree to this cooked masala & mix well. If the consistency seems too thick, add 3-4 tbsp water accordingly. Let the mixture simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Add heavy cream (or cashew cream), garam masala & mix well. Taste the gravy once & adjust salt as per your taste.
Add paneer or tofu cubes to this palak gravy. Let it simmer for another 2 minutes.
Garnish with some more cream or grated paneer. Delicious Palak Paneer is ready. Serve it hot with chapati, paratha, naan or jeera rice.
Tips to make perfect palak paneer:
1. If the tomatoes are less sour, you can add little bit of lemon juice or amchoor (dry mango powder).
2. You can make this palak paneer without onion & garlic too. Instead of garlic, use 1/4 tsp of heeng (asafoetida).
3. To retain the perfect green colour in palak paneer avoid overcooking it at any step. We have cooked spinach twice in this recipe, first by blanching in beginning & then towards the end after cooking the masala. Keep track of the timings in both steps.
4. Red chilli powder turns the palak paneer darker in colour. So its better to use green chillies or whole dried chillies to add spiciness to it.
5. Don’t mix too much after adding paneer as over mixing can break the paneer pieces. Add the paneer only after the gravy is ready.
6. Don’t heat too much after adding paneer as overcooking can make the paneer rubbery & chewy.
If you try this recipe & share pics on social media, then don’t forget to tag on Facebook, Instagram or use #kuchpakrahahai.