Palak paneer is a smooth, delicious curry that is loaded on the good stuff and really pretty to look at. Its deep green gravy dotted with soft melt-in-the-mouth cottage cheese is a pure delight to the senses. A very popular Punjabi/North Indian dish, I do make it regularly at home.
1 large bunch spinach leaves, thoroughly washed and cleaned (I put in the soft stems as well)
2-3 green chillies
Cottage cheese (Paneer) 200 gm. cubed
6-7 Garlic cloves
1 inch ginger chopped
1 large onion sliced
2 tomatoes sliced
½ tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. garam masala powder
½ cup Milk
2 tsp oil
This recipe needs the spinach to maintain its beautiful green color. Hence, ensure that the spinach does not get overcooked. After cleaning and washing the spinach, I put in the dry leaves with stems in a wok. I let the leaves release their own water and let them sweat it out for a couple of minutes. You will get some water and wilted leaves. Now along with the green chillies, blend it and keep it aside.
In another wok, take some oil and heat. Now tip in the cumin seeds till they splutter. Add in the sliced onion and cook it for a couple of minutes till it is translucent. Add in the ginger and garlic and cook further. I like them to be golden. Now tip in the chopped tomatoes and sweat everything together. You can add a bit of salt to hasten the process. I prefer to blend this chunky paste to a smooth one in the blender. If you like it chunky, you can leave it as it is.
Now add your spinach paste to this onion-garlic-ginger-tomato paste and cook it for a few minutes so that you get a lovely green gravy. Now add in the garam masala powder and salt. I avoid turmeric or red chilly powder in this recipe to retain the green color. If you want more heat, add more green chillies to the spinach earlier. Now add in the soft cubes of paneer .
Finally, I add some milk (half cup) to give the gravy some depth. and cook for just a couple of minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning as per taste. Don’t cook it for too long after this.
Take it off the fire. Garnish with some ginger juliennes and some fresh cream (optional). Serve hot with rotis (Indian flat bread) or rice. Enjoy!