Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Palak Paneer !

Dear Foodies,

Here is a simple recipe that transforms boring greens into a delectable creation, Palak Paneer. Just the addition of paneer to the word palak makes it a quick favorite :D I totally forgot about this dish after I came here. Palak Paneer's rich (& greasy) cousin, Saag paneer is a quintessential addition to any Indian restaurant here in the US. They drown the greens in tons of cream and butter robbing them of their natural beauty ! I've somehow never heard of this dish in India, it must be one of those Indo-American creations by some innovative chef !

So last week a friend of mine who reads my blog asked me why I had not blogged about this dish yet, it got me wondering too ! Its a clean, uncomplicated recipe that can be cooked in under 30 mins. Some jeera rice or chapatis on the side and your are all set to have a delicious meal. Thank you KM ! Its has been ages since I enjoyed this dish and it felt sooooo good. It brought back memories of the aloo palak my mom makes( need to get her recipe)

The recipe for palak paneer is very simple, its perfect for first time cooks. There are very few ingredients with the spinach being the star of the show. No heavy cream or butter or masala to spoil the fun here. Its also a very forgiving recipe, letting you use any form of the ingredients without ruining the flavor even a bit. Many recipes I saw online called for cumin and coriander powder, I had neither with no intentions of making them fresh either. So I just crushed the seeds in a mortar and pestle. I also had some leftover tomato puree from the gobi kheema. You can surely use store bought tomato puree or fresh tomatoes. So here's my recipe

  • 1 bunch - Spinach leaves, washed (I used a packet of baby spinach)
  • 2 nos - Green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 10-15 - Paneer cubes (I used frozen paneer cubes got from the Indian store)
  • 1 tbsp - Oil (or butter/ghee if you are in a really good mood :) )
  • 2 tsp - Cumin seeds/Jeera
  • 1 tsp - Coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp - Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 nos - Onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp - Ginger & Garlic paste ( I minced fresh ginger & garlic)
  • 1 nos - Ripe tomato, chopped or 1 Tbsp - Tomato puree ( I had some leftover frozen cubes of this tomato puree)
  • 1 tsp - Garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp - Yogurt
  • Salt to taste
  1. Boil some water in a vessel. Add the washed spinach, slit green chillies and some salt. When the leaves start to wilt strain them in a colander, storing the water. Wash the leaves under cold water, this I read helps retain the green color of the leaves.
  2. Using a little of the strained water, puree the spinach and green chillies. I used a hand blender for this. If you choose to skip the blending part, then roughly chop the wilted spinach leaves to get a similar texture.
  3. In a pan, heat the oil and splutter the jeera seeds and add crushed coriander seeds (or powder). As they brown, add the onions, ginger-garlic paste (store bought or fresh) and turmeric.
    Tip: Sprinkle a little salt on the onions to soften them faster. Salt brings out the water from the onions and helps them cook faster.
  4. Once the onions are cooked add chopped tomatoes/puree. Cook until the tomatoes are tender and mushy. In my case I used 3 cubes of the frozen tomato puree and cooked it for 2-3mins. Add some of the strained water if needed.
  5. Add the pureed spinach and let it simmer for a few minutes. Don't add too much water as there are no thickening agents in this recipe. I added some yogurt to get a nice smooth texture. When adding yogurt, lower the heat to avoid curdling.
  6. Meanwhile thaw the paneer cubes in the microwave for a minute or two. Heat some oil in a pan and lightly brown the paneer. Don't toss them around too much as they break up very easily. I took the easiest route by spraying the paneer with some cooking oil and broiling them in the oven for 5 mins.
  7. Add the paneer cubes and some garam masala to the palak; cook on low heat for a couple of minutes.
  8. Serve hot with jeera rice or chapati. You can use the leftover strained water to make the chapati dough or cook rice.

I had some cooked rice in the fridge, so I microwaved it for 3 mins after tossing some jeera, a few drops of oil and a few spoons of water. Instant Jeera rice ready !! I absolutely loved this combo. Spinach in this form tastes sooo good. You even forget to feel guilty you are eating your greens !! :P So if its been awhile since you made this, do it tonight !

Happy cooking,

17 thoughts:

Unknown said...

looks greatt!!! healthy as well as delicious! keep the good stuff coming![:)]

Linda said...

MMmm mmm mm!! That looks yummy Priya! Thanks to you, I may just stop for a bunch of spinach on the way home tonight :)

Pooja said...

Hi Priya,
Visiting you after a bit long time, as i was notmuch on blogging world :) . lovely post. YEah i agree with you, i too have never heard of saag paneer in India. palak paneer is our favorite dish as i love palak and hubby loves paneer a lot. so this is the dish which combines the taste of both of us :)).
Yours one is looking very tempting, ture that home made is much more healthy than anywhere else...
Keep posting dear...

Rajitha said... are so right..the butter and the heavy cream really makes this simple dish complicated!! love the vibrant color..looks great..

bee said...

looks great. i make bad palak paneer. will try this.

Sagari said...

nice recipe yummmm

Red Chillies said...

This is definitely making me hungry. I loved your idea of using yogurt in the end, it adds flavor, creamy texture and also some tartness. yumm

KALVA said...

WOw, your palak paneer looks so vibrant is green.. Nice one..

KayKat said...

This looks great!

One thing I often do is add a tablespoon of ground cashews - it adds a really creamy, nutty flavor to the palak.

Padmaja said...

Priya!! lovely looking palak dear!!! i would love to have with some butter naans!

Priya said...

Krishna Thank you, and I am looking for more recipe suggestions from you. I had this for 2 days, actually still have some in the fridge :)

Linda Did you make it ?? If not try it this weekend, it will be a nice change from all the toor dal in your kitchen these days ;)

Pooja How have you been ?? Has the US treating you well over the last few months ?? Do come back to blogging and keep us updated.

Rajitha, this one was truly good and sooper simple too :)

Bee, give this one a try. Its a very basic recipe. Many called for addition of kasuri methi, lime juice, fresh tomato puree, cream etc etc. But I don't think it needs any of those embellishments at all.

Sagari, Welcome to my place :) do try it out if you can and you have to come back to tell me how it was :)

RC, the yogurt did just what you have described. And its something we always have in the fridge as opposed to heavy cream. I was too lazy to make chapati's once the dish was ready :)

Kalva, Thank you & Welcome :) I think the washing blanched leaves in cold water helped. I read that over cooking them also robs them of the color, so I was very careful about it.

KayKat Thats a very nice addition. Will try it next time :)

Padmaja I would love it if somebody make me some butter naan !! It was good with the instant jeera rice too though :)

Restless Inquirer said...

That's mouth-watering. One of the dishes that I had been wanting to try out for a long time. Will give it a go next week.

Amna said...

hi priya,lovely dish and the idea of broiling paneer is simply awesome!! thnx for the idea

Finla said...

Looks delicious i've only ate the from resaurants, should try them at home

Anonymous said...


I'm hesitant when it comes to Indian cooking - I seem to be able to cook about just every other cuisine well, but never have I been able to make anything that even comes close to tasting like the real thing. So I'd just accepted the fact it's safer to just eat Indian food outside rather than spoiling the whole experience.

Boy am I glad I tried this one out.
Terrific! Thanks for the great recipe, it was simple enough such that even I couldn't mess it up. And it turned out much much better than the palak paneer I've had at restaurants!! I'd just have liked it spicier - but that's probably due to the lack of hotness of Melbourne chillies, so I'd probably add more next time.

Thanks again, Priya!

Priya said...

Naphtalene: I am so glad you liked the Palak Paneer. The ones in the Indian restaurants here in the US are doused in cream and are no way close to the real deal. Hope to see you arnd and venturing more into Indian cooking :)

Sayali said...

I tried it out and it tuned to be delicious....:)

Blogging tips