Palak Paneer/ Spinach Curry with Cottage cheese recipe
Palak Paneer / spinach gravy with cottage cheese recipe is a very loved staple Indian recipe. It is a sumptuous creamy spinach gravy cooked in aromatic spices with chewy melt in the mouth paneer (Indian cottage cheese) pieces. This is a very simple crowd pleaser recipe , requiring very basic ingredients and tastes rich and delicious.
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What is Palak Paneer ?
Palak paneer is an absolutely delicious Indian gravy /curry. It is one of the all time favourites of punjabis and across northern parts of India.
This is a very simple, crowd pleaser recipe , requiring very basic ingredients and tastes very rich and delicious.
This is very nutritious dish with lots and lots of spinach in it and protein in the form of fresh paneer though some nutritionists suggest otherwise. As per these theories the combination of spinach and paneer (cottage cheese) is not a very healthy one, as Calcium in paneer hinders the absorption of iron in spinach.
I have not come across any studies to authenticate this theory and we have been having this dish since childhood . People who do not like eating spinach, devour this spinach curry. It is one delectable vegetarian dish, with the tastiest curry and you need to try it if you haven’t already.
Is Palak Paneer same as Saag or Saag paneer?
Palak Paneer is also called ‘saag paneer ‘ in some countries. However saag is a completely different dish in India , and has nothing to do with Palak or spinach) .
Palak is hindi name for Spinach leaves , and Saag is a hindi/ punjabi name for Mustard leaves.
Palak paneer is made using spinach or palak leaves. Saag is made with a combination of winter green mustard leaves, bathua leaves and spinach leaves.
The original recipe for Saag does not contain paneer. Though some people do like adding Paneer to saag (mustard leaves ), and that is their preference.
The authentic saag or sarson ka saag is made using greens of Mustard leaves, and have a very different recipe.You can find the recipe for authentic sarson ka saag here on the blog.
Ingredients required to cook Palak Paneer/ Spinach curry
Paneer ( Indian cottage cheese ): For paneer, in this dish I used the store bought paneer for brands like Riyas, apetina, tesco or Amazon fresh groceries.
If you are using store bought paneer it is advisable to soak it in hot water for 15-20 minutes to make it soft.
You can also make paneer at home, by curdling milk using lemon or vinegar, and sieving it. Later keep it under heavy weight for 4-5 hrs to get a good quality homemade paneer.
Using fresh or sauteed paneer :You can use the fresh paneer cut into cubes and directly add it into the puree, or if you want to make the dish more rich add pan fried paneer.
To pan fry paneer, heat a little oil, and sautee the paneer cubes in a pan/tawa before adding them to the palak puree. This way it becomes crisp on all sides , and adds a texture to the bite.
If you do not want to add cream, you can replace this with a little milk, or use cashew ceam.
To make cashew cream ,soak the cashews in hot water for 15-20 minutes, and then blend them with a little water or milk. Make a smooth paste and add it to the recipe.
Tadka or tempering for this recipe: You can use either oil or ghee to make palak paneer. In the oil/ghee ,add dry spices, and onions, tomato, ginger, garlic, green chillies, and then add spinach puree.
I recommend using pure desi ghee for this dish.True flavour of authentic punjabi palak paneer, and as a matter of fact , most of the Punjabi dishes comes out with using pure desi ghee.
Believe me ghee is not bad for your health. It is really healthy to add some amount of pure desi ghee in your daily routine.
Method of cooking
There are various ways to cook this creamy smooth palak paneer recipe.
This recipe involves blanching the spinach leaves, pureeing them, cooking the puree in tadka (tempering), seasoning and combining well with paneer .
Lastly add cream and kasoori methi to add to the deliciousness of the dish.
You can add fresh or pan fried paneer in the cooked palak curry / spinach gravy. I usually add fresh homemade or store bought paneer. However if palak paneer is in the menu for a party or a get together i add pan fried paneer.
This recipe tastes best when served hot with paranthas , roti, naan or poori.
You can also serve it with Jeera rice or steamed rice.
What to serve with Palak Paneer
Some of the recipes that go really well with the palak paneer meal are :
Adding cream helps add a little sweetness and cut the bitterness in the spinach.
Yes absolutely. If you do not have cream you can use milk instead. Cream helps thicken the consistency , but milk will make it slightly runny.
If you do not want to use paneer, you can make palak corn , palak tofu (using extra firm tofu), palak chicken, palak mushroom. Though take in consideration the cooking time for the ingredient you are replacing paneer with. If using chicken, please ensure the chicken is cooked and seasoned before you add palak gravy/ curry to it.
This dish can absolutely be made vegan, by replacing and substituting some ingredients. Replace ghee with oil, vegan butter. Replace paneer with vegan substitutes like tofu . Cream can be replaced with cashew cream or coconut cream . However please keep in mind using coconut cream will change the flavour a bit.
Yes. Any day if i have excess water after boiling the spinach , i never throw it. I drink it, or give it to the kids as a healthy shot. You can also save it and add it to knead the dough for rotis/ parathas. The spinach water has high antioxidants, and is rich source of iron. It is a great immunity booster.
Yes. As mentioned earlier there are so many ways to cook palak paneer. The recipe i shared is very authentic recipe, however i do alter it many times to add variations. You can add a cupful of kale leaves or even broccoli while boiling/blanching spinach, and then puree it together. Keep the rest of the recipe same.
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Palak Paneer/Saag paneer/ Spinach gravy with Cottage cheese recipe
- pan/ kadhai
- 500 grams palak leaves/ spinach leaves washed and roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 250 gms paneer/ cottage cheese cut into cubes
- 1 tsp oil any vegetable oil/ olive oil
- 2 tbsp ghee/ clarified butter you can use oil
- 2 medium onions chopped finely
- 1 medium tomato pureed
- 1 inch ginger slice grated/ paste
- 7-8 cloves garlic grated/ paste of 4 cloves and keep 2 cloves whole
- 4-5 green chillies chopped
- 1 tsp jeera/ cumin seeds whole
- a pinch of hing powder/asafoetida powder
- salt as per taste
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder/ haldi powder
- 3 tbsp malai/ clotted cream if homemade cream is not available you can use fresh cream/ clotted cream
- Blanch the spinach leaves/palak leaves along with 2-3 cloves of garlic, 1-2 green chillies,and half a cup of water, in a covered pan for 6-8 min.
- Once cool, blend the above to make a smooth puree.
- In a pan, heat ghee.
- Add Jeera/ cumin seeds, hing (asafoetida) and let it splutter for a minute.
- Add Ginger and garlic (grated or paste). If you do not have fresh ginger/ garlic, you can use 2 tsp of ready ginger/garlic ready paste.Saute till the raw aroma of ginger garlic goes away.
- Add chopped onions. Saute them till they turn nice light brown in colour.
- Add tomato puree.
- Saute the whole tempering well, till you can see oil on the sides.
- Add salt, red chilli powder, haldi powder(turmeric powder) and chopped green chillies.
- Add the palak/ spinach puree, and saute well for 5-10 minutes on slow heat.
- Add 2 tbsp Malai/ fresh cream to the puree. Mix well .
- In a separate pan , heat oil. Add paneer cubes and lightly saute them for 5-7 minutes in the oil till they are nice and golden.(This step is completely optional. you can use the paneer as is without slightly frying it)
- Now add the paneer (fried/ or fresh cubes) to the spinach puree.Mix well, and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Garnish with fresh cream and serve hot with paranthas/ roti/ naan.
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