Palak Paneer is quite possibly one of my favourite dishes.
While Indian food is a staple in our home, (well Indian food made by a Danish woman – so slightly different as well perhaps?) we mostly cooked South Indian cuisine, as my father is Tamil. So dishes like palak paneer were not part of our day to day menu. In fact the only time I would have it was if I visited my friends home, or we went to a North Indian restaurant.
My only problem with this dish though is that most restaurants add quite a lot of cream to it, and with me being rather sensitive when it comes to all things dairy, that never ended well and meant I could not tuck in nearly as much as I would have liked to. So this is my recipe sans ghee and cream, and with ingredients that you will be able to get in most large supermarkets.
Recipe (Serves 4)
1/2 inch ginger
2 cloves garlic minced
250gms Fresh baby spinach (you can use frozen spinach too)
2 Green Chillies (omit if too spicy)
Note : You can also add a handful of Coriander to the mix
Blend till smooth
Rest of the dish
1/2 Medium sized White Onion
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 inch ginger minced
(If you have ginger garlic paste 1 Tablespoon will suffice)
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 green Chilli sliced
1 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Asafoetida
1 tsp Fenugreek
1 bay leaf
200gms paneer cubed
2 tablespoons of heavy cream or a spot of greek yoghurt!
1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan on medium heat. Then add cumin seeds, bay leaf, ginger, garlic, onions and green chilli.
2. Let onions sweat, then add tomatoes.
3. As tomatoes start to cook, add 1 tsp garam masala and turmeric and stir. Then add the fenugreek.
4. Add 2 tbsp of water and let it reduce. Add salt to taste and Asafoetida.
5. Add spinach mixture and 100mls of water. Stir in and add another tsp of garam masala. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, stir in then add paneer cubes.
7. Let the paneer cubes cook for about 2 minutes.
8 Add 2 tablespoons of double cream and stir in just before serving. Or add a teaspoon of greek yoghurt to each serving.
While it does seem rather taxing having to blanch the spinach for 1 – 2 minutes in hot boiling water and then immersing it in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. I have tried skipping the step entirely and ended up with spinach that was not nearly as green. So I really recommend doing it! Also, try to remove the stems as much as possible, to avoid it getting too bitter.
You really must use a blender for this. I tried with our old food processor and instead of a smooth paste, I ended up with a bitty lumpy mix which just was not ideal! (I was thoroughly disappointed with it then)
If you do not have Fenugreek and Asafoetida, you can omit them as well. And push come to shove if you cannot find paneer in the shops Halloumi is actually a decent substitute. Though you may want to hold off adding salt to the dish entirely as Halloumi can be rather salty.
Another way to get a creamy flavour, is to grind up about 100 grams of cashew nuts. Dry toast them on a pan then add into the blender before adding the spinach and blending it further. This is another way to get a very creamy paste.
If you like your cream (I love cream as well), then just before serving taking it off the stove, add 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream and stir it in.
I love this dish because it is great form of meal prep! Just make the base without the paneer and it freezes for up to a month. When you want to eat it, just reheat and add your paneer at the very end on the day itself!
Let me know if you try it!