restaurant style palak paneer (with dhungar method)

restaurant style palak paneer recipe with step by step photos – a popular spinach based gravy dish, made with spinach puree, spices and paneer. this is one of the best restaurant style palak paneer recipe that you can easily make at home.

palak paneer restaurant style recipe

this delicious palak paneer recipe was shared by my dad who had got it from one of his punjabi friend, who owned a popular dhaba in the mumbai suburbs. on occasions, dad would get us palak paneer or paneer butter masala and dal makhani from uncle’s dhaba and we would always relish it as kids. this dhaba is closed now, but the memories remain.

on some days, we are in a mood to have restaurant-style food at home. so when i prepare these recipes, then at times, i also take pics to share the recipes on the blog.

i have already posted a homely version of palak paneer which is different from this recipe. the difference is in the proportion of some ingredients added and the dhungar or charcoal smoking method which really perks the flavor in this one.

there is no tangy or sour element in this recipe. if you want a bit of tang, you can add 1 small to medium tomato after sauteing the ginger-garlic paste. alternatively, you can also add a few drops of lemon juice or amchur powder.

serve restaurant-style palak paneer with tandoori rotis, naan, chapatis or jeera rice or biryani rice. even goes well with steamed rice.

how to make restaurant-style palak paneer

blanching spinach

1. rinse 250 grams (8 to 9 oz) palak (spinach leaves) well and then keep them in a colander, so that the excess water drains off. if the stems are tender, then keep them. but if they are hard or fibrous, then discard them.

palak for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

2. boil 3 cups water in a pan. you can also boil water in an electric heater and then take it in a pan or bowl.

water for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

3. add the spinach leaves in the water.

palak for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

4. stir. blanch the spinach leaves in water for 3 minutes.

blanching palak

5. when the spinach leaves are blanching, in another bowl, take 2 cups some water and add 8 to 10 ice cubes.

ice for palak paneer recipe restaurant style

6. after 3 minutes, remove the blanched spinach leaves from the hot water and add them to the cold water. stir gently so that all the leaves are immersed in the cold water. after 1 minute, remove them.

palak for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

7. place the spinach leaves in a grinder or blender jar.

palak for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

8. grind or blend to a smooth puree. no need to add any water while grinding or blending.

palak puree for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

9. this step is optional but recommended as lightly golden pan fried paneer cubes taste good. heat 3 tbsp oil in a well seasoned pan or non stick pan. place the paneer cubes.

paneer for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

10. turn over when one side is light golden and fry the other side.

paneer for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

11. fry till the paneer cubes are light golden evenly. avoid frying too much or for a longer time, as then the paneer cubes become dense.

paneer for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

12. remove and then drain the fried paneer cubes on kitchen paper towels.

paneer for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

13. to soften the paneer more, keep them immediately in water. this is an optional step and you can skip it. allow the paneer to be in the water for 3 to 4 minutes. then lightly squeeze them and keep aside.

paneer for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

making restaurant style palak paneer

14. now in the same oil, in which we had pan fried paneer, add the following spices – ½ tsp cumin seeds and 2 small tej patta or 1 medium to large tej patta. saute till the cumin splutters.

spices for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

15. then add ⅓ cup finely chopped onions.

onions for restaurant style palak paneer

16. stir well.

making restaurant style palak paneer recipe

17. saute the onions till they turn light golden.

onions for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

18. then add 1 tsp ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste and 1 to 1.5 tsp finely chopped green chilies. you can also use ½ to 1 tsp green chili paste instead of chopped green chilies. ½ tsp red chili powder can also be added instead of green chilies.

garlic for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

19. stir and saute till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.

making restaurant style palak paneer recipe

20. now add the spice powders – a pinch of turmeric powder, ½ tsp black pepper, crushed in a mortar-pestle (optional) and 1 tsp kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves. crush the kasuri methi and then add.

spices for restaurant style palak paneer

21. stir well.

making restaurant style palak paneer recipe

22. then add the palak puree.

palak puree for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

23. season with salt.

salt for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

24. then add a pinch of sugar.

sugar for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

25. stir well.

making restaurant style palak paneer recipe

26. on a low to medium flame, for about 6 to 7 minutes, simmer the gravy till it slightly thickens.

making restaurant style palak paneer gravy

27. add ¼ cup low fat cream (or 3 tbsp whipping cream) and ½ tsp garam masala powder.

cream for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

28. stir very well.

making restaurant style palak paneer recipe

29. the cream should be mixed very well with the palak gravy. then switch off the flame.

preparing restaurant style palak paneer recipe

30. add the paneer cubes.

paneer for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

31. mix them well with the rest of the gravy. cover the pan.

preparing restaurant style palak paneer recipe

dhungar method

32. optional step, but i highly recommend it. burn a small piece of natural charcoal on a stovetop with the help of tongs. place a small flame proof rack on the stovetop and on top of the rack, place the charcoal. burn the charcoal till its red hot.

dhungar for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

33. now place a small bowl or some layers of an onion in the palak paneer gravy. place the charcoal on top. add ½ tsp oil on the charcoal. you can also keep 1 clove or ½ tsp cumin seeds on the charcoal and then pour the oil. as soon as you pour oil, smoke will emit from the charcoal.

dhungar for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

34. as soon as the smoke begins to emit, immediately cover the pan tightly with a lid. keep the pan covered for a minute so that the charcoal’s smoky aroma & flavor gets infused with the gravy. for a slight tang you can add ¼ tsp dry mango powder or a few drops of lemon or lime juice and stir before serving.

dhungar for restaurant style palak paneer recipe

35. serve restaurant style palak paneer with tandoori rotis, naan or jeera rice or garam masala rice. even goes well with steamed rice. you can top it with some butter or cream or grated paneer while serving. also you can drizzle a few drops of lime or lemon juice on top along with ginger julienne, before serving.

restaurant style palak paneer
few more tasty recipes for you!

restaurant style palak paneer

4.98 from 34 votes
Author:Dassana Amit
Prep Time:25 mins
Cook Time:20 mins
Total Time:45 mins
Course:main course
Cuisine:north indian,punjabi
Calories: 437kcal
Servings (change the number to scale):3 to 4
palak paneer recipe restaurant style, spinach paneer recipe
palak paneer is one of the popular spinach based gravy dish, made with spinach puree, spices and paneer.
(1 CUP = 250 ML)

INGREDIENTS

for palak puree

  • 250 grams palak or 8 to 9 oz spinach (palak)
  • 3 cups hot boiling water for blanching spinach
  • 2 cups water for ice bath

for pan frying paneer

  • 250 grams paneer or 8 to 9 oz cottage cheese (paneer)
  • 3 tablespoon oil

for palak paneer gravy

  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 2 small tej patta or 1 medium to large tej patta (indian bay leaf)
  • 1 medium onion or 60 to 70 grams onions or 1/3 cup tightly packed finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste + 1 teaspoon garlic paste OR 2 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste (adrak lahsun ka paste) OR (½ inch ginger + 6 to 7 small to medium garlic - crushed to a paste in mortar-pestle)
  • 1 or 2 green chilies, chopped or 1 to 1.5 teaspoon finely chopped green chilies (add ½ teaspoon red chili powder instead of green chilies)
  • 1 pinch turmeric powder (haldi)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper - crushed in a mortar-pestle (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) - for more hints of bitterness you can add overall 2 teaspoon kasuri methi
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • ¼ cup low fat cream or 3 tablespoon whipping cream
  • a pinch of sugar
  • salt as required

INSTRUCTIONS

blanching and making palak puree

  • rinse the spinach leaves (palak) well in water and then keep them in a colander, so that the excess water drains off. if the stems are tender, then keep them. but if they are hard or fibrous, then discard them.
  • boil water in a pan. add the spinach leaves in the water.
  • stir and blanch the spinach leaves in water for 3 minutes.
  • when the palak leaves are blanching, in another bowl, take some water and add 8 to 10 ice cubes in it.
  • after 3 minutes, remove the palak leaves and add them to the cold water.
  • stir gently so that all the palak leaves are immersed in the cold water. after 1 minute, remove them.
  • place the palak leaves in a grinder or blender jar.
  • grind or blend to a smooth palak puree. no need to add any water while grinding or blending.

pan frying paneer cubes

  • this step is optional. but lightly golden pan fried paneer cubes taste good in palak paneer. heat oil in a well seasoned or non stick pan. place the paneer cubes.
  • turn over when one side is light golden and fry the other side.
  • fry till the paneer cubes are light golden evenly. don't fry too much as then the paneer cubes become dense.
  • remove and then drain them on kitchen paper towels.
  • to soften the paneer more, keep them immediately in water for 3 to 4 minutes. this is an optional step and you can skip it.

making restaurant style palak paneer

  • now in the same oil, in which we pan fried paneer, add cumin seeds and tej patta. saute till the cumin seeds crackle.
  • then add finely chopped onions. stir well.
  • saute the onions till they turn light golden.
  • then add ginger paste, garlic paste and finely chopped green chilies. you can also use green chili paste instead of chopped green chilies. alternatively instead of green chilies, red chili powder can also be added.
  • stir and saute till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
  • now add the spice powders - a pinch of turmeric powder, ½ tsp black pepper, crushed in a mortar-pestle (optional) and 1 tsp kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves. crush the kasuri methi and add.
  • stir well. then add the spinach puree.
  • season with salt. then add a pinch of sugar. stir well and on a medium flame, simmer the gravy for 5 to 6 minutes or till it thickens slightly and the spinach is cooked well.
  • add ¼ cup low fat cream or 3 tbsp whipping cream along with ½ tsp garam masala powder. stir very well.
  • the cream should be mixed very well with the palak gravy. then switch off the flame.
  • add the fried paneer cubes. mix them well with the rest of the gravy. cover the pan.

giving dhungar

  • burn a small piece of natural charcoal on a stove top with the help of tongs.
  • place a small flame proof rack on the stove top and on top of the rack, place the charcoal. burn the charcoal till its red hot.
  • now place a small bowl or some layers of onions in the palak paneer gravy. place the charcoal on top. add ½ tsp oil on the charcoal. you can also keep 1 clove or ½ tsp cumin seeds on the charcoal and then pour the oil. as soon as you pour oil, smoke will emit from the charcoal.
  • immediately cover the pan with a lid. keep the pan closed with the lid for a minute, so that the charcoal flavor gets infused with the gravy. 
  • for a slight tang you can add ¼ tsp dry mango powder or a few drops of lemon or lime juice and stir before serving.
  • serve restaurant style palak paneer with tandoori rotis, naan, chapatis, paratha or jeera rice or biryani rice.
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dassana amit

Founder, Chef, Recipe Developer, Food Photographer >> MORE ABOUT US

namaste and welcome to vegrecipesofindia.com which i started in feb 2009 and is a pure vegetarian blog. i have been passionate about cooking from childhood and began to cook from the age of 10. later having enrolled in a home science degree greatly enhanced my cooking & baking skills and took it to a different level which i now share as foolproof recipes. i was formally trained both in mainstream indian as well as international cuisines.

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138 comments/reviews

  1. Hi Dassana,
    I have tried many of ur recipes n they have been a hit always. Paneer butter masala, Dal Makhani n Palak paneer are everyone’s favourite. Thanks for sharing these recipes with us.

    Thanks,5 stars

  2. Ma’am,
    A nice page about spiritual events is attached with this site, it was opened in facebook. I want to go through that page, can you please add the link again….
    I think that page from Facebook was named as Good Karma…

  3. I have been following your page for along time. Whenever I need a veg India recipe my only goto is ur page.. Amazing recipes and your picture demo are so cool and easy. Thank you 🙏

  4. I have made this recipe three times now and turned out to be absolute delicious. Just love all your recipes Dassana.5 stars

  5. Hi Dassana,
    I am from Germany and I love Indian food, especially palak paneer. Thank you so much for your blog and sharing all those wonderful recipes. Now I can eat homemade palak paneer, it is delicious! Your pictures and videos make it easy and really foolproof to cook a tasty meal.5 stars

  6. Hey Dasanna,

    I urge u to put one more option on your website where by viewers can put their hands thru their screens and eat the dish too.;-). ..the pics are so tempting that it leaves us drooling on this side of screen…We have to wait till we make the dish ourself to taste it.specially the dosa pic and the sev puri one…..tongue out … yummy looking5 stars

  7. Thanks a lot for this recipe!
    As we are vegan, we will substitute the Paneer with Tofu.
    What is your recommendation for an appropriate substitute for the whipping cream/low fat cheese – Cashew paste or Coconut milk? Any other suggestion perhaps?
    And again – Thanks a lot!5 stars

    • welcome ziv. coconut cream or coconut milk works like a charm in many indian recipes where cream is required and blends perfectly well. cashew paste also works well, but the cashew need to be sautéed or cooked and cannot be added toward the end of the recipe. i would suggest coconut milk or coconut cream.

  8. I doubt any one will ever get the same taste as you would with your recipe cause of the garam masala. There are hundreds or even thousands of variations of garam masala in india hence simply mentioning garam masala would never make a complete recipe. Would be nice if you could also tell us how to make the garam masala that you have used for this recipe or what brand of ready made. I truly believe that’s when you will have your exact recipe with same flavour profile out to us readers.

  9. Hi,
    I have 2 questions.
    1. Can you give the measurements of spinach I should use in cups? I am not sure how much cups 250 gms would be.
    2. I only get heavy whipping cream in store, Is it fine to use 3 tbsp of those?

    Thank you. BTW wanted to say I love your website. I developed interest in cooking because of your recipes

    • thanks arvind. thats nice to know. for the palak paneer recipe, 250 grams spinach will yield approx 5 cups of roughly chopped spinach.
      for the heavy whipping cream, you can use 2 to 3 tablespoons.

  10. Tried this recipe today. It was thethe best palak paneer I have ever made. As you said it is the restaurant style recipe. Love this website. Thank you for your detailed recipe with pics. Awesome work.5 stars

  11. I’m from Canada, and LOVE Indian takeout, so I’ve been trying to learn to cook even better Indian food at home. This is a great recipe and super easy to follow. I wasn’t able to use the charcoal method, but it was delicious.

    Do you have a favourite Chana Masala recipe here? That will be my next dish to try.5 stars

  12. Thanks for this​ easy to follow recipe! What are your thoughts on substituting low fat cottage cheese instead of paneer(since paneer is hard to find around my place)5 stars

  13. Hello, just a little query.
    I am not that fond of the cream we get in the market, would it be ok if I use malaai?

  14. Fantastic recipe. I’ve tried to make Palak Paneer before and it was terrible but this recipe was easy to follow and very delicious. I will definitely be cooking this again!5 stars

  15. Hi,dassana
    Palak paneer recepie is awsome liked too much by family n specially hubby.Thank u too much for uploading such recepies.Love u.

  16. This recipe looks so interesting and authentic–I’m excited to try. Question–what type of green chilies do you use? I actually have access to an Indian grocery story close to my house, so I want to make sure I get the right kind. We are making this for a teacher luncheon for the school. Thanks!

  17. Thank you so much for your superb recipe!!
    I have one question; would it be okay to substitute cream with fat-free yogurt or even non-dairy substitute like almond milk, as I’m trying to watch my fat intake??

  18. Thanks for sharing your amazing recipe with pictures as it becomes easier for us to understand..looks yummy..love the charcoal method..will review after preparing5 stars

  19. Thanks for such great description and details and pictures! I was able to make some of the best palak paneer I’ve ever tasted, while using just ingredients I found here in Canada.

  20. This recipe is AMAZING!! I eat a lot of Indian, especially Punjabi food, and this is exactly what I was hoping for, or better! Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe!! I will define be making it again ASAP ?5 stars

  21. Excellent receipe! I prepared it to my family (they are not vegetarians) and they fell in love with it to the extent they ate it all and I didn’t taste it that day?

  22. hello mam today I tried your recipe,othank u so much mam your palak paneer recipe is so easy to cook and help me to complete my sister’s wish. thanks

  23. I tried this recipe today, it was awesome.All your recipes are mouthwatering.Thank you sooo much.God Bless.5 stars

  24. Hello mam
    I tried this recipe today. It turned out so well that everyone in family licking their fingers. I swear my hubby gonna mad over this recipe. He said I never eat so delicious palak paneer in my life. The smoky flavour is the king of this recipe. Thanks a lot I tried so many recipe from ur ur site nd eachone is big hit especially wheat flour chocolate cake.5 stars

    • thats great and thanks for sharing your experience as well as feedback on palak paneer recipe. also thanks for sharing the feedback on other recipes too. agree the smoky flavour makes a lot of difference. thanks again and happy cooking.

  25. Dear Dasana,

    Today I tried this recipe of yours. It turned out very delicious. My children and husband has it for breakfast and also insisted on having it packed for their lunch. The idea of getting smokey tandoor flavor is fabulous. All your recipes are a complete fool proof. Thanks a lot to you. May god always bless you and your family.

  26. hey Dassana… Thank you for such a wonderful recipe… i tired it and everyone at my home liked it a lot..:-)