January 29, 2013

Palak Paneer Recipe | Spinach Paneer Recipe

Learn how to make Palak Paneer: this my recipe that's perfected over the years by adding and subtracting ingredients to suit our palates. My version of Palak Paneer contains no cream.
Today, TH turns 31. I met him when he was 24. Both of us were younger, slimmer, naiver, and he really wasn't TH back then, just this goofy funny guy who made me laugh all the time and ridiculed my Tamil. Most of that has changed now except one thing. TH's love for Palak Paneer. When he first told me how much he loves Garlic Nan with Palak Paneer, I was surprised because where I come from, most guys don't really like spinach. TH is neutral towards other spinach dishes but Palak Paneer, he adores. He has tried Palak Paneer in pretty much every city we have traveled to and is still on the quest to find the best Palak Paneer in Singapore.

Palak Paneer-Spinach Paneer Recipe

Since we eat it so often when we go out for meals, I rarely make Palak Paneer at home. This one time I did make it, I used red amaranth leaves and way too much spices. Check out my first version of Palak Paneer Recipe here.

Since then I've realised that Palak needs spices to make it less blah but the spices need to edge it on, not overpower it and become bossy. If you are serving this with nan, the flavours need to be just right so that it complements the nan perfectly.

Anyway, on TH's birthday this year, I wanted to share his most favourite dish and the recipe I have perfected over 4-5 trials. As mentioned, when I make Palak Paneer, I like to keep the recipe simple and don't add unnecessary thickening agents or cream.

Palak Paneer Recipe

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup of cubed paneer (how to make paneer at home)
1 large bunch of palak (or green spinach)
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp of minced garlic
1/2 tsp of minced ginger
1 tsp of red chilli powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
1/2 tsp of jeera (cumin) powder
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1 large pinch of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp of garam masala
2 tsp of ghee (or oil)
1 pinch of hing (or asafoetida)
1 heaping tsp of tomato paste (or 1 pureed tomato) - optional
1 cup of milk (or water)
1 tbsp of plain curd (or yogurt) - optional

How to Make Palak Paneer:

1. The first step is to blanch the spinach. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and dunk the washed spinach leaves in it. Let it simmer for about 2 mins and then remove. Puree to a smooth paste.
Palak Paneer-Spinach Paneer Recipe

2. Drain the water and in the same bowl, heat the ghee or oil. Add the cumin powder and within 5 seconds, add the chopped onions. Saute until golden brown and add the spice powders like coriander powder, turmeric, chilli powder, and hing. Fry for a few seconds, taking care not to burn them spices.
Palak Paneer-Spinach Paneer Recipe

3. Next, add the minced ginger and garlic and the tomato paste if using. Mix well and add the pureed spinach.
Palak Paneer-Spinach Paneer Recipe

4. Top this off with the milk. Mix well, bring to boil and add the kasuri methi and salt.
Palak Paneer-Spinach Paneer Recipe

5. Cook covered for about 6-8 mins until the spinach is completely cooked and spices have blended well into the gravy. Gently add the paneer pieces to the gravy.
Palak Paneer-Spinach Paneer Recipe

6. Top off with a tbsp of curd (plain yogurt) if you want the gravy to be thicker. Sprinkle garam masala. Mix well and remove from the stove.
Palak Paneer-Spinach Paneer Recipe

Done! Delicious piping hot Palak Paneer is now ready.

Palak Paneer-Spinach Paneer Recipe
Palak Paneer with Easy Vegetable Pulao (click for recipe)

Notes:

- You can fry the paneer pieces in some oil, dunk it into hot water for a few seconds, squeeze and set aside to be added to the gravy later. This makes the paneer softer. Since I used fresh homemade Paneer, I avoided this step.

- Adjust the quantity of spices to your liking. For me, these quantities work out perfectly.

- You can add a couple of green chillies to the spinach while grinding instead of using red chilli powder. I generally do this but didn't have any fresh green chillies in hand that day.

Serve Palak Paneer as a Side Dish with:

Tawa Nan
Jeera Rice
Methi Paratha
Simple Vegetable Pulav
Triangular Chapatis
Vegetable Biryani