Updated: Jan 30
This luscious green curry provides a burst of delicious flavour and creaminess in, dare I say, a better than the restaurant dish! I have made this multiple times, taught people how to make it and there are always rave reviews! You will definitely be surprised at how you can make this wonderful dish in your very own kitchen.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
I have always loved Palak Paneer but it only seemed like a dish we would eat at lavish Indian events or restaurants with freshly made naan, but never something I would attempt to make at home.
Then one day I decided to make it with a spin of my own, and it was surprisingly delicious! I processed the spinach more finely than commonly done because this blends the flavour better into the gravy and also doesn't leave the a spinach flavour behind. I am thrilled to tell you that you can make Palak Paneer too, and leave everyone impressed and licking their fingers!
Are Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer the same?
This is a very common question, they are not. 'Palak' means spinach, and so this dish is made with spinach as the only leaf vegetable. 'Saag' on the other hand means any leafy green vegetable. Therefore Saag Paneer can be made from any variety of greens including spinach, ie' fenugreek, mustard greens and collard greens. Palak Paneer is a spin off from the traditional North Indian dish Saag Paneer.
Can I make this dairy free/vegan?
Yes! I am beyond excited to tell you that you can! The flavour profile isn't exactly the same but it comes close and it's delicious, tried and tested! Carry out the following substitutions:
Paneer - 2-3 medium sized potatoes (peeled and cut into around 1 cm cubes)
Cream - Oat milk or other preferred milk.
Butter - Butter alternative
To make the curry first start by heating 2 tbsp oil on medium low heat. Then add in 1 tsp cumin seeds and sizzle for 2 minutes, then add in the potatoes with 1 tsp crushed cumin, 1 tsp crushed coriander, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp crushed garlic, 1 tsp crushed ginger, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp crushed green chillies (optional). Mix well and cover, cook until soft, mixing often.
Now follow the recipe below using the alternative ingredients above, skip step 6 and instead add in the potatoes with the gravy in step 7.
It might take a little longer but you will not believe your creation!
Spinach Fresh is best because it adds colour and a velvety consistency to the curry.
Butter and Oil Using a combination of both fat and oil is another key to why this recipe tastes incredible. Butter adds flavour and oil gives enough grease to fry the onions and tomatoes, this saves the dish from tasting too rich but also gives just the right amount of grease to cook the dish.
Blanching the spinach is an important step because it adds a vibrant green colour. The recipe includes instructions on how you can easily do this in one minute.
Try not to cook the curry for too long once it is ready or it will begin to lose it's beautiful colour and turn a dull green.
If the paneer is bought from a store, soaking it in boiling water 10-15 minutes will prevent the texture from becoming dry and chewy as it cooks.
If you prefer a pillow soft panner with no texture around the outside, you can skip the step of briefly frying the panner before adding the gravy.
Delicious Palak Paneer Recipe
170g fresh spinach
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
1 cumin seeds
2 dried red chillies
For the curry
340g of paneer
1 tablespoon butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 small or 1 1/2 medium onion chopped
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
2 teaspoons ginger
1/3 cup crushed tomatoes
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 - tbsp honey (plus 1/2 if you prefer a sweeter flavour)
1/4 cup whipping or heavy cream
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (more if needed)
3 tbsp Kashmiri methi
First let's blanch the spinach to retain it's beautiful green colour. To do this, prepare a big bowl of very cold water and add in a few ice cubes, this is the ice bath. Then add spinach to boiling water for exactly one minute, and remove quickly into the ice bath using tongs (make sure the boiling water has come to a rolling boil).
Now let's start the curry by tempering, first warm oil and butter in a pan on medium heat. Add in the dried red chillies and cumin seeds and sizzle for 1-2 minutes or until slightly darker in colour.
Add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook until golden brown, around 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add in the tomatoes, salt, chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and cook further until the oil separates from the tomato mixture, around 3 - 5 minutes.
Now remove the whole dried chillies (if you want a mild curry, otherwise leave 1 or both in) with a fork and scoop the mixture into a blender. Add the blanched spinach to the blender and 1/2 cup of spinach water (more if needed to blend the mixture well), and blend until smooth. The gravy is ready!
Add 1 tbs butter to a pan on medium heat, 1 tsp cumin seeds and the slice green chillies.
Add in the paneer, stirring occasionally until slightly browned, around 2 minutes.
Pour in the green gravy mixture, honey, Kashmiri methi (crushed between your hands or fingers) and cook for 1 minute. Taste to check the salt and your delicious Palak Paneer is ready! Serve with rice or hot naan.