The quintessential palak paneer recipe is a hearty and wholesome side dish for your butter naans or phulkas. Use this recipe of palak paneer to whip up a restaurant style version at home!
Palak is my favorite green leafy vegetable of all time and this is one such veggie which I love since my childhood. But palak paneer is definitely a new-found love of mine which I discovered once I started eating out. Palak paneer is an authentic Punjabi dish which was not common to make in Bengali households and same was the case in my mom’s kitchen. Hence the very first time I tasted palak paneer was in a Punjabi restaurant and am seriously hooked to it since then! The silky green gravy of palak paneer is simply to die for, even more than the succulent cubes of paneer and the typical Punjabi aroma that comes from a bowl of hot palak paneer gravy fills my senses wholeheartedly!
When I first tasted the restaurant version of palak paneer many years ago, I hadn’t entered this culinary world yet and had no idea that someday I will. Hence, I was under the impression that making such silky-smooth restaurant style palak paneer gravy at home is absolutely impossible as they definitely deploy some very scientific technique which we common man can never decipher. But today I can tell you how badly wrong I was! Even if it takes some time and effort, you can definitely make the super tasty restaurant style palak paneer at home, that’s a guarantee from me!
Palak i.e. spinach is a very healthy green with truckload of nutrition. I love palak in any shape and form, be it my mom’s special palong shaker ghonto or my Italian chicken spinach pasta. But if you want to experience the strongest flavor of palak in any dish then that has to be nothing but this palak paneer. Paneer i.e. cottage cheese cubes, when cooked in the flavorful palak gravy, soaks up the flavors from the spices and get infused beautifully; so, I recommend to let the paneer cook in the gravy for some time to ensure maximum taste and flavor. Also try to get your hands on malai paneer as its texture is softer and creamier which pairs well with the palak gravy.
While enjoying the last few days of winter you must make this palak paneer at home with seasonal fresh palak leaves as that’s the best you can get and there is nothing like fresh veggies. If possible, try to chose the baby spinach or small spinach leaves as they melt more beautifully in the gravy once you whiz them up. To get that restaurant like creamy palak paneer gravy, don’t forget to add the dollop of fresh cream at the very end of cooking process and you will be sorted. In case you are attracted to this rich green gravy but are lactose intolerant, then you can replace paneer with some sautéed cubes of firm tofu, it will taste equally delish! Enjoy!
- Paneer (Cottage Cheese) – 200 gms
- Palak (Spinach) – 4 standard bunches (approximately 250 to 300 gms)
- Onion – 1, large
- Garlic – 4-5 cloves, minced
- Ginger – 1-inch piece, grated
- Tomato – 1, large
- Cinnamon stick – 2-inch piece
- Green cardamom – 4 to 5
- Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
- Cumin powder – ½ tsp
- Garam masala – ½ tsp
- Ghee (Clarified butter) – 4 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Fresh cream – 3 tbsp
- Trim off the fat stems of the palak and retain only the leaves. Try to get the freshest spinach leaves as it will give you the ultimate best taste.
- Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly as they generally have too much dirt. Set aside.
- Chop the onion and tomato to small pieces. In a skillet heat the ghee. When hot, temper with cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks and green cardamoms and let them flavor the ghee for a minute.
- Add the chopped onion, grated ginger & minced garlic and sauté till golden brown. Tip in the chopped tomatoes and sprinkle some salt for the tomatoes to cook faster.
- When the tomatoes turn soft and mushy and the fat starts separating, add the turmeric powder, cumin powder and salt. [Add salt cautiously since the palak reduces in volume tremendously, so it’s an easy mistake to overdo the salt. You can always add it later after doing a taste test.]
- After frying the powdered spices for a minute or two, add the washed spinach leaves. You can chop the leaves to smaller pieces but that’s not mandatory as we are going to blend it anyway.
- Spinach leaves will leave a lot of water and will wilt down within couple of minutes. Stir them in the spices for five minutes to get rid of the raw smell of spinach.
- Now it’s time to blend, but before that you may want to fish out the cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods or if you like their strong taste like me, you can leave them too.
- If you have a hand blender, you can blend directly in the skillet or else you can transfer it to your blender and blend it till it becomes a smooth green puree. Add some water if needed and transfer it back to the cooking pot.
- Let the spinach puree boil and in the meantime cut cottage cheese into 1-inch cubes. Simmer the paneer cubes in salted boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes and turn the heat off. You can let them remain in the hot water until it’s time to add them to the gravy.
- Once the palak gravy looks thick smooth, add the paneer cubes to the gravy and stir carefully to mix as the paneer cubes may tend to break. Cover with a lid and let them simmer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, remove the lid and give a light stir. Now add the fresh cream, keeping the flame at minimum and mix with a spatula. The gravy will turn thicker, richer and smoother just like in restaurant.
- Adjust the consistency of the gravy according to your liking; add some water if it seems too thick. Check and adjust for seasoning if needed.
- Now put off the flame and sprinkle some garam masala all over. Keep it covered for few minutes before serving. Enjoy the warm palak paneer with butter naan or phulka or even plain Basmati rice. Enjoy!