Palak Paneer is a famous North Indian gravy dish made with Spinach and Indian cottage cheese and served with Indian flat bread like Chapati/Roti/Paratha/Naan or even Rice. Its a very healthy vegetarian dish with the goodness of spinach and paneer.
The main and important part of this dish is preserving the green color of spinach else it can make this delicious dish look not so appealing. Spinach has a tendency to change color when cooked or mixed with the Indian masalas (spices). Its tends to go from vibrant green to dark and then to a Mehndi (henna) green color. So what I like to do is boil/cook my spinach in very little water. This helps lock the nutrients from spinach in the water. When spinach has completely cooled down use this same water to grind it to puree. This tip I learnt from my MIL 🙂 The key is to add the spinach puree to the cooked paneer and onion tomato masala only when its time to serve this dish. Boiling process ensures the spinach is completely cooked so there is really no need to cook it further. Also I read adding sugar helps preserve the green color so I add a tiny bit.
Palak Paneer is creamy on its own so I usually skip the cream for my day to day cooking but you can add some if you like. I usually use couple of tbsps for garnishing when I have guests over or for potlucks/parties.
Now to the recipe…
For Spinach Puree:
5 cups packed Palak leaves washed thoroughly
1 cup water
For the Gravy:
1-2 tbsp oil
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin seeds
300 gms paneer cut into cubes
4-5 cloves of garlic minced
2 inch piece ginger finely chopped or grated
2 green chillies (or to taste)finely chopped
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
1/2 tsp of salt (or to taste)
In a vessel heat water and when it comes to a boil add the spinach leaves. In couple of minutes the spinach leaves will wilt and shrink in size. Then add 1/2 tsp salt and sugar and mix and cook for couple of minutes more. So in all you will cook the spinach for 5-7 mins on medium high. Remove and keep aside (along with the remaining liquid) to cool and then puree it in a blender until smooth. Usually the water remaining in the boiled spinach should be sufficient to puree but if not add some and puree.
Now in a vessel heat oil in a vessel and once hot add the bay leaf and cumin seeds. Once the seeds splutter add the onion and saute till they tuurn translucent. Now add ginger garlic green chillies and saute till raw garlic smell disappears and onions are light brown. Add the tomatoes, salt and turmeric powder. Mix well.
Cover and cook till tomatoes are soft. Now add all the powder spices like red chilli , cumin seeds, coriander, dry mango and garam masala. Crush the fenugreek leaves between your palms and then add it to the gravy. Mix well and cook for about 2 mins stirring intermittently. Then add paneer cubes and gently mix so that all the masala is well incorporated with the paneer. Cover and cook for 2 mins. Finally add the spinach puree and give it a good stir. Cook for about a minute or two.
- Depending on the quality & size of spinach leaves the cooking time may vary. Cook till the leaves are soft, dark and reduced insize. I have used baby spinach leaves for this recipe.
- Adding turmeric powder is optional as its said to play with the green color of the gravy. I usually add it but you can skip it too.
- Depending how thick/think you like your gravy to be adjust the water consistency.
- Use good quality fresh and soft paneer for this dish.
That’s it our Palak Paneer is ready. Serve it hot with Paratha/Roti/Chapati/Naan or even Rice. Enjoy!!