palak paneer recipe with video and step by step photos – smooth creamy palak paneer made with fresh spinach leaves, paneer, onions, herbs and spices. palak paneer is basically soft cottage cheese cubes cooked in smooth spinach curry.
this delicious palak paneer recipe is the way my mom would make for us. she has been making this recipe for years and now i make it for everyone. it is one of the favorite paneer recipes on the blog – not only readers’ favorite but also ours.
i also make a restaurant style palak paneer, which has the smoking or dhungar method incorporated in it. i use dhungar method in recipes where i want to add smoky charcoal aroma to the dish.
in this palak paneer recipe i have shown the method of blanching spinach. this is done so that the dish has a nice green color and it is a healthy practice as well.
i always recommend blanching spinach before making any dish where the spinach leaves are used in large quantities and where a puree is made from the leaves. any chef worth his or her salt will blanch spinach before using the spinach leaves in most recipes. blanching spinach was also taught to me in my home science cooking classes many years ago.
in making palak recipes like dal palak, palak rice or palak sabzi etc, the spinach leaves are not blanched but sautéed. sautéing spinach leaves also work well in most recipes. whether to sauté or blanch depends on the type of cooking technique you are using for that particular recipe or dish and the proportion of spinach used. for a recipe like palak paneer, its best to blanch spinach given the following benefits it has.
why blanch spinach for making palak paneer
- blanching spinach reduces some of the oxalic acid from the leaves.
- oxalic acid binds with calcium from the leaves, thereby reducing its absorption in the body. due to this binding, calcium oxalate crystals are formed which cause stones in the kidneys, if spinach is consumed raw and in large amounts.
- blanching also releases some of the calcium which is present in the leaves. thus the body gets to absorb more calcium from the spinach leaves if you blanch them.
- the only loss of vitamins which happens during blanching is the water-soluble vitamins, but the amount is very less as the spinach leaves are not getting boiled. however blanching preserves and locks some other nutrients in the spinach.
- the blanching technique retains and preserves the green color of the spinach in the palak paneer.
- blanching gets rid of harmful microorganisms, which can cause food contamination and food poisoning.
- when you use raw spinach puree to make recipes like palak paneer or saag paneer, there is a possibility that the raw smell and bitterness of spinach can remain in the gravy.
- blanching also gets rids of the pesticide residue if any from the spinach.
- blanching removes the bitter metallic flavor of spinach and makes it more flavorful and palatable without any after taste.
- when making spinach based sauces or gravies, where spinach is directly ground, there can be a raw taste of spinach even after cooking it. to prevent this blanching is the best option as the raw taste of spinach is not felt after cooking the puree.
this delicious palak paneer goes well with rotis, naan, parathas or tandoori rotis and even jeera rice or biryani rice or saffron rice or ghee rice.
vegans can substitute paneer with tofu in this recipe. i have made palak tofu many times and even with tofu, the palak gravy tastes very good.
how to make palak paneer
1. rinse the palak or spinach leaves (200 to 250 grams), very well in running water.
2. boil 3 cups water in a pan or microwave or electric heater or in a pan. add ¼ tsp salt to the hot water and stir. then add the spinach leaves in the hot water. let the palak leaves sit in the water for about 1 minute. if using stove-top then keep the pan down and switch off the flame.
3. after 1 minute, strain the spinach leaves.
4. immediately add the palak or spinach leaves in a pan or bowl containing ice cold water. this method helps in preserving the green color of the spinach. just add 8 to 10 ice cubes to 3 cups water to get cold water. allow the spinach leaves to be in the cold water for a minute.
5. then drain the ice cold water. add the spinach in a blender or grinder jar with ½ inch chopped ginger, (1 or 2 small to medium) garlic cloves and 1 or 2 green chillies. you can also use a hand-held immersion blender to make the puree.
6. make a smooth spinach puree. no need to add water while making the puree. keep the spinach puree aside.
making masala for palak paneer
7. heat 2 tbsp oil (or ghee or butter) in a pan or kadai. here i have used butter. if using butter, melt it a low flame making sure that the butter does not brown.
8. add ½ tsp cumin and let them splutter.
9. then add one small to medium-sized tej patta (indian bay leaf).
10. add ⅓ cup finely chopped onions (1 small to medium sized onion).
11. saute till the onions become golden.
12. then add the finely chopped garlic (4 to 5 small to medium sized). saute till the raw aroma of garlic goes away. no need to brown the garlic.
13. add ⅓ cup chopped tomatoes (1 small or medium sized tomato).
14. stir and saute the tomatoes till they soften.
15. once the tomatoes are softened and you see fat releasing from the sides of the mixture. then add ¼ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp red chili powder and a pinch of asafoetida (hing). if you do not have asafoetida, then skip it.
16. stir very well.
making palak paneer
17. then add the palak puree.
18. stir well.
19. add about to ⅓ to ½ cup of water or as required. stir again.
20. simmer the gravy for 6-7 minutes or more till the palak or spinach is cooked. season with salt. the gravy or sauce will also thicken by now.
21. stir and add (¼ to ½ tsp) garam masala powder.
22. stir again and then add the paneer cubes (200 to 250 grams cottage cheese). i have added the paneer cubes directly to the gravy. but you can also lightly fry or saute the paneer cubes till they lightly browned and then add them to the palak gravy. in this case, you don’t need to cook the paneer further.
23. stir gently and simmer on a low flame till the paneer cubes become soft and succulent. cook for about 1 minute.
24. lastly add cream (1 or 2 tbsp cream, low fat 25% to 35%. i used amul cream). you can also add 1 tsp crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) at this step. kasuri methi is optional though.
25. stir gently again so that the cream gets incorporated in the palak paneer gravy uniformly. switch off the flame.
26. stir and serve palak paneer hot with some rotis or naan or paratha or jeera rice or ghee rice. you can top the palak paneer with some butter or cream also while serving. also drizzle a few drops of lime or lemon juice on top along with ginger julienne on the palak paneer.
few more popular paneer recipes for you
for palak puree
- 200 to 250 grams fresh spinach OR 5 to 6 cups roughly chopped spinach OR about 7 to 9 oz spinach
- 1 or 2 green chilies - chopped
- 1 or 2 small to medium garlic cloves - roughly chopped (optional)
- ½ inch ginger - roughly chopped
- 3 cups water for blanching spinach
- 3 cups water for ice bath
- 1 small to medium sized onion - finely chopped OR about ⅓ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 small or medium sized tomato - chopped OR about ⅓ cup finely chopped tomatoes
- 4 to 5 small to medium garlic cloves (lahsun) - finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder - optional
- a pinch of asafoetida (hing) - optional
- ¼ or ½ teaspoon garam masala powder - add more if required
- 1 small to medium tej patta (indian bay leaf)
- 200 to 250 grams paneer or tofu OR about 7 to 9 oz paneer (cottage cheese)
- ⅓ to ½ cup water or add as required
- 1 or 2 tablespoon cream - low fat 25% to 35% (i used amul cream)
- 2 tablespoon oil or ghee or unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi leaves (dry fenugreek leaves) - optional. kasuri methi is crushed and added right towards the end. just before adding cream.
- salt as required
- a few teaspoons of cream or butter for topping the palak paneer (optional)
- ½ inch ginger - julienned
- lemon or lime wedges or slices
making palak puree
- rinse the palak or spinach leaves very well in running water. tender stem are fine. if the stems are stringy, then discard the stems.
- boil 3 cups water in a pan or microwave or electric heater. add ¼ tsp salt to the hot water and stir. then add the palak leaves in the hot water. let the palak leaves sit in the water for 1 minute.
- after 1 minute, using a pasta tong, take the leaves.
- immediately add the palak or spinach leaves in a pan or bowl containing ice cold water. this method helps in preserving the green color of the spinach. just add 8 to 10 ice cubes to 3 cups water to get cold water. allow the spinach leaves to be in the cold water for a minute.
- then drain the ice cold water. add the spinach in a blender or grinder jar with chopped ginger, garlic and green chilies.
- make a smooth palak puree. no need to add water while making the puree. keep the spinach puree aside.
- heat oil or ghee or butter in a pan or kadai. if using butter, melt it a low flame making sure that the butter does not brown.
- add the cumin and let them splutter.
- then add the tej patta or bay leaf.
- add the finely chopped onions. saute till the onions become golden.
- then add the finely chopped garlic. saute till the raw aroma of garlic goes away. no need to brown the garlic.
- add the chopped tomatoes. stir and saute the tomatoes till they soften.
- once the tomatoes are softened and you see fat releasing from the sides of the mixture. then add the turmeric powder, red chili powder and asafoetida/hing.
- stir very well.
making palak paneer
- then add the palak puree and mix well.
- add about ⅓ to ½ cup water or as required. stir again.
- simmer for 6 to 7 minutes or more till the palak or spinach is cooked. season with salt. the gravy or sauce will also thicken by now.
- stir and add garam masala powder.
- stir again and then add the paneer (cottage cheese) cubes.
- stir gently and simmer on a low flame till the paneer cubes become soft and succulent. cook for about 1 minute.
- lastly, add cream. stir gently again so that the cream gets incorporated in the gravy uniformly. switch off the flame.
garnishing palak paneer
- pour the palak paneer in serving bowls. while serving you can top it with some butter or cream.
- you can also drizzle a few drops of lime or lemon juice on top along with ginger julienne on the palak paneer.
serving palak paneer
- stir and serve it hot with some rotis. it also goes very well with indian breads like tandoori roti, chapatis, phulkas, parathas or naan.
- being a versatile dish, it also accompanies rice dishes from the indian cuisine like cumin rice, veg pulao, ghee rice and even a simple steamed rice very well.
- the paneer or tofu cubes can also be lightly fried and then added to the curry. in this case, you don't need to cook the paneer or tofu in the gravy as when frying they are already cooked.