Palak Paneer - A Supreme Vegetarian Dish
Palak Paneer - The Dish You Love
Palak Paneer, traditionally a North Indian, Punjabi dish is very popular globally. In India this dish has immense popularity and is possibly the most ordered dish in vegetarian restaurants. Palak is spinach while paneer, though often referred to as cottage cheese, is similar to cottage cheese, but not the same.
This dish should be served hot with either roti, paratha, puri, plain rice, jeera rice (check out my recipe for this dish) or any kind of vegetable fried rice or pulao.
Paneer is so popular among vegetarians that it has spawned several varieties like Paneer tikka, Paneer masala, Paneer tikka masala, Paneer butter masala and others.
Palak is prepared as subzi (vegetable dish) or potato with a garlic and green chillies tadka. The resulting subzi is one of my favorites among vegetable dishes. It is also boiled with dal (lentils) and ground nuts resulting in a dish that is simply yummy.
So when we combine both of these in a single dish with additional ingredients which I will describe later, what you get is what has captivated the vegan world and sky rocketed this dish's popularity.
Benefits of Palak Paneer
- Rich in fibre, Palak Paneer helps in digestion.
- Plentiful vitamins and minerals, this is a much needed source of nutrition.
- High in Protein, this helps in cell formation and builds your body.
- Spinach which contains antioxidants lower your blood pressure and cholesterol level.
- 500 gms palak (spinach)
- 200 gms paneer
- 2 medium sized onions
- 2 tomatoes
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp jeera (Cumin seeds)
- 1 tbsp coriander and cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
- 3 green chillies
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 each of whole green cardamom, cinnamon and cloves
- 1/4 tsp chilly powder
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 1 tbsp fresh cream
- 5 cashew nuts
- Salt (according to taste)
1. Cut onions, tomatoes, garlic cloves and green chillies finely.
2. Soften the paneer cubes in hot water for 5 minutes, then drain the water. Then stir fry the paneer in 1 tbps oil for 2 minutes. Keep aside.
3. Boil the palak in little water in 2 cups of water for 2 minutes. Make sure not to place the lid over your container as the palak will lose its inherent green color. Then, drain the water in a strainer and store it for later use`in the curry (its great to utilize the palak flavor), and immediately after draining the hot water, keep the palak under running water for a minute to prevent over cooking.
4. Use a blender to blend the palak with a 1/2 cup of water - you may use the drained water from Step 3. What you get is a smooth palak puree.
4. Light fry your split cashew nuts.
Instructions for making the Palak Paneer
1. Take a pan, pour the oil and heat it. When the oil gets hot, slow the flame, add jeera, whole garam masala (cardamom, cinnamon and clove) and bay leaf into it. Let it splutter properly.
2. Slice the garlic cloves finely and fry these in oil till they turn golden brown in color.
3. Now add the onions and stir fry it on a medium flame. When it changes its color to a slight golden brown, add ginger-garlic paste, fry for a minute and then add tomatoes to it and fry till the tomatoes are cooked properly.
4. Add green chillies, turmeric powder, chilly powder, coriander and cumin powder and then add 2 tbps of water to it and fry properly. I add water so that the masala does not burn in the oil. Wait till everything mixes well.
5. Add palak puree to it and salt according to your taste. Stir the puree with the masala so that they blend well. You may add a half cup of water if the gravy is a little dry as the texture ought to be smooth. After it comes to a boil, lightly stir for 5 minutes. Now add the garam masala powder and stir for a minute.
6. Add the sauteed paneer and stir gently so that paneer pieces do not break. Cook for 5 minutes and switch the flame off. Add fried cashew nuts and spread some ghee all over the gravy. The Palak Paneer is ready.
7. Throughout the cooking process, bear in mind that you must NOT cover your container/pan so that the palak retains its color. After switching off the flame and adding the cashews, cover the pan with a lid.
Serving the Palak Paneer
- You may add fresh cream to the curry before serving.
- It can also be served with lemon wedges or curd.
- Palak Paneer is served with plain rice, jeera rice, or any other type of rice. You could also enjoy this magnificent dish with roti, paratha, nan or puri.
Why I love this dish
I always enjoy cooking and eating this dish. Palak curry with its rich green color and chunks of white, soft paneer, looks tempting and appetizing and tastes in equal measures just as brilliant. So enjoy cooking and happy eating.