Healthy and Easy Palak Paneer

Easy spinach paneer recipe

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Soft pieces of Indian cottage cheese in a delicately spiced creamy spinach sauce , this is an easy palak paneer recipe for anyone to make even on a weeknight.

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Perhaps one of the most popular vegetarian Indian dish paneer and spinach curry is liked by all ages especially those who prefer milder  Indian dishes.

Palak in Hindi means spinach and Paneer is the Indian cottage cheese different to the cottage cheese you get in the super markets outside of India.

There are many different versions to make paneer with spinach across the subcontinent. All versions can be considered an authentic palak paneer recipe as there is no right or wrong way of making this dish.


This delicious smooth easy palak paneer dish is made with fresh spinach leaves, paneer, onions, tomatoes, and regular whole spices readily available.

Ingredients for Homemade Palak Paneer 

You will find most of the ingredients listed in large super markets.

If you do not get paneer then you may have to go to an ethnic store or read below for suitable alternatives and substitutes.

Here is a image of some of the ingredients:

Ingredients for palak paneer

FRESH INGREDIENTS :

Spinach ( frozen or fresh)

 Onions

Fresh tomatoes or tinned tomatoes

Green chillies

Ginger

Garlic

Butter

Cream

SPICES USED

 cumin seeds

Brown cardamom ( How is brown cardamom different to green, read here)

Green cardamom ( read about the uses of green cardamon here)

 Cinnamon stick

 Bay leaves

Chilli powder (optional)

  Turmeric powder (optional)

PANTRY INGREDIENTS :

Sunflower Oil / ghee

Salt to taste

SUBSTITUTES AND OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS 

Substitute for paneer – Read FAQ note below for suggestions and options

Substitute for ghee – Use half butter and half oil instead 

Substitute for brown cardamom – Omit from recipe if you are unable to find it.

How to Make Palak Paneer – Step wise method with Images

Below is the step wise process to make paneer with spinach at home.

The recipe involves different components to be cooked separately and brought together.

STEP 1 – BOIL THE SPINACH 

Put spinach, chopped onions, green chillies, chopped ginger, bay leaves and brown cardamom in a large boiling pot , with a little water and salt and bring to boil.

Spinach onions ginger in a pot for palak paneer

STEP 2 – MAKE SPINACH PUREE 

When the spinach is cooked and the onions soft make a puree of the spinach with a hand blender or regular blender and set aside.

Spinach puree for homemade palak paneer

STEP 3 – FRY GARLIC 

Heat butter or oil in a pan. Saute chopped garlic until slightly golden brown in colour and set aside.

Fried garlic tempering

STEP 4 – MAKE THE BASE SAUCE  

In the same pan with butter, add cumin seeds, green cardamom and remaining brown cardamon and saute for few seconds.

Fry whole spices in oil

Add the chopped tomatoes, chilli powder and turmeric with a little salt  and cook until pulpy and you see the oil leaving the sides.

cook tomatoes

Add the tomato masala base to the pureed spinach and mix well. Your spinach base sauce for palak paneer is ready .

Add tomato masala base to spinach puree

STEP 5 – ADD PANEER TO SPINACH

Add chopped paneer cubes to the spinach puree.

Add paneer cubes to spinach

STEP 6 

Add cream to spinach and mix well.

Add cream to spinach

STEP 7 

Add the fried garlic to the spinach sauce.

Add fried garlic to the spinach puree

STEP 8 

Finally squeeze lemon juice and your homemade simple palak paneer is ready.

Squeeze lemon juice

STEP 9

Serve spinach paneer with any Indian flat bread or rice.

Easy palak paneer recipe

Recipe Notes and FAQ’s 

  1. Defrost frozen spinach to room temperature before boiling.
  2. To retain the bright green colour of the spinach add three to four ice cubes to the pot once the spinach is boiled.
  3. If you do not like heat then use only one type of chilli. Use either whole green chillies or red chilli powder. 
  4. You can choose to lightly fry paneer pieces in oil if you wish. This is an optional step . 

Why is this an easy and quick spinach paneer recipe?

One of the reasons Indian dishes take time to cook is that you need to cook the aromates well. 

This cooking process is explained in the post here on  how to cook Indian food the authentic way. 

I call this the best palak paneer recipe because by  skipping sauteing onions and boiling spinach while you cook the masala base cuts short the cooking time.

More time saving Indian cooking  tips are shared on this post here. 

I also skip frying the paneer which further reduces a step. 

How to make paneer soft in palak paneer?

Paneer available outside the subcontinent tend to be a bit harder. To make it soft cut the paneer in cubes and soak it in hot salted water for at least 30 minutes before adding it to the dish and simmer on low heat for it to absord the favours. 

Alternatively flash fry until light golden in colour before adding to the dish.

What is the best substitute for paneer?

The best dairy substitute for paneer are feta cheese, halumi cheese, turkish beyaz peynir or the regular cottage cheese you get in the market. 

How to make a vegan palak paneer?

The closest vegan substitute for paneer is tofu.  You can make it with spinach and paneer with  tofu or use chunky cut vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots and peas instead. 

Replace cream with thick coconut or almond milk or cream . 

Can you freeze Palak Paneer?

Yes, you can easily freeze palak paneer for upto 3 months. 

How to prevent spinach from becoming bitter?

Spinach can be a bit funny at times and can become bitter if not cooked properly or depending on the spinach leave. 

This simple palak paneer recipe reduces the likelihood of the spinach turning bitter as it is boiled instead of sauteed in oil. 

Other tips to reduce bitterness from spinach is to add citrus ingredient such as lemon juice or vinegar or dairy products like yogurt and cream. 

What is the difference between Saag Paneer and Palak Paneer?

‘Saag’ in Hindi means leafy green vegetables. This could mean mustard greens, dill leaves, Swiss chard etc.

Saag paneer is a dish made with a mix of leafy greens while Palak paneer uses only spinach. 

Where to buy Spices online?

Not sure if you can get all the spices listed in the recipe.

Buying all kinds of fresh spices cant get easier than buying them through online store at The Spice House and get them delivered to you directly.

For

Click here to discover the world of flavors at TheSpiceHouse.com.

ONLINE COOKING CLASS

Wish to master Spices and make Indian cooking Easy?

Join a fully interactive online Indian cooking class that demystify’s and simplifies spices and makes you an intuitive cook.

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Ingredients

Spinach (frozen or fresh) - 400 gms
Onions-1, roughly chopped
Fresh tomatoes - 2 medium sized, chopped or tinned tomatoes- 3/4 cup
Green chillies- 1 to 2 or as per your taste
Ginger - 1 inch roughly chopped
Garlic - 6 pods, chopped
Butter/ghee/sunflower oil- 2 tbsp
Cream - 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
SPICES USED
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Brown cardamom - 2
Green cardamom - 4
Cinnamon stick - 1 inch
Bay leaves - 2
Chilli powder (optional) - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder (optional) - 1 tsp
*Ingredients Needed

Directions

1
BOIL AND MAKE SPINACH PUREE
2
Put 350 grams of spinach, 1 roughly chopped onions, 1 inch roughly chopped ginger, 2 bay leaves and 1 brown cardamoms in a large boiling pot .
3
Add 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp of salt and bring to boil. 
4
When the spinach is cooked and the onions soft make a puree of the spinach with a hand blender or regular blender and set aside.
5
FRY GARLIC
6
Heat butter or oil in a pan. Saute chopped garlic until slightly golden brown in colour and set aside.  
7
MAKE BASE SAUCE
8
In the same pan add 1 tsp cumin seeds, green cardamom and remaining brown cardamon and saute for few seconds. 
9
Next add the chopped tomato, turmeric and chilli powder (if using both) and a little salt and cook until it becomes pulpy and you see oil leaving the sides.
10
Add the tomato masala base to the pureed spinach and mix well. Your spinach base sauce for palak paner is ready . 
11
PUT PALAK PANEER TOGETHER
12
Add chopped paneer cubes to the spinach puree and mix
13
Next add 1/4 cup of cream and the previously fried garlic.
14
Finally a good squirt of lemon juice stir all in well and serve creamy smooth homemade palak paneer with any Indian flat bread, pulao or plain boiled rice.