Indian cottage cheese cooked in a delicious spinach gravy.
Growing up in a South Indian household paneer was never made at home, it was always store bought and it was something that was truly never relished in our house. I was never a fan of paneer, I always found it a little bland and tasteless but I recently I seem to have found a special place for it in my heart.
An extremely versatile ingredient, paneer is loaded with healthy fats & proteins and low in carbs and melds really well into any flavorful gravy or dish.
Palak paneer has to be one of my all time favorite paneer dish to make. Soft browned paneer simmered in a lightly spiced hulky green spinach gravy.
This is my version of the OG classic palak paneer!
• 2 bunches fresh spinach, cleaned & chopped • 400g (1 pack) paneer, cubed or cut into small pieces • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder • 3/4 teaspoon chilli powder (can adjust this to your taste) • 1 1/2 tablespoons ghee or oil • 1 - 2 tablespoons oil • 1 tablespoon + 1/3 cup water • 1/2 lime • 1/2 teaspoon jaggery or sugar • salt to taste
Tempering • 1 1/2 tablespoons ghee or butter • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
Clean & chop the spinach, garlic, & paneer. In a non-stick saucepan heat the oil & brown the paneer on both sides.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan add 1 tablespoon water, all the chopped spinach and with the lid on and steam for 3 - 4 minutes on a medium flame. I find this way the spinach retains a lot of the color & also doesn’t get slimy when puréed. Stir once to ensure all the spinach has wilted & take off the heat. Allow the spinach to cool down & blend into a smooth paste adding very little water, if needed.
In the same heavy bottomed saucepan add in the ghee and blended spinach and place on the heat over a medium flame. I find it easier to add the spinach to a cold pan and bring it up to temperature so that the spinach doesn’t burn and splutter everywhere when added to a hot pan. Add in garlic and sauté for a minute till the raw smell isn’t there anymore.
At this time if the curry base is too thick add a little water to thin it out to the consistency you like and add in turmeric, chilli powder, salt, & garam masala and cook for 2 minutes. Add in a little jaggery or sugar to balance the flavors and cut any bitterness from the spinach.
Add in the browned paneer and stir very gently to make sure the paneer doesn’t break down into the curry. Cook for about a minute to allow the paneer to heat through. Take off the heat and set aside.
For the tempering, in a small saucepan heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of ghee or oil over a medium high flame. Once the ghee is hot add in the cumin seeds and allow then to crisp up (about 30 seconds). Add the asafoetida and take off the heat immediately. The residual heat should help the asafoetida become fragrant.
Add the tempering to the spinach curry and add in the lime juice and stir very gently once again. Serve this hot with either a side of rice, rotis, or naans.
I cut the paneer into long rectangular pieces as this is a little more appealing to me than cubes, but you can cut the paneer into any shape (that’s not too small) you wish.
The flavors meld together the longer they sit so this dish is great the next day and a great make ahead dish for a party.