Conducting cooking classes for my friends and colleagues was something I really enjoyed doing. We had so much fun during those classes where we cooked together and then devoured all the fruits of our labour afterwards. Though I didn’t manage to hold many sessions, I will always remember those fun filled classes with a smile. Palak paneer and chicken tikka masala were some of the most popular dishes among my friends so naturally, I received many requests to make these two in the sessions.
Palak paneer is a dish prepared mainly in Punjab, a state in northern India. It makes for an excellent accompaniment to rice or naan, Indian flat bread. The combination of palak and paneer is not only nutritious, but is also a delicious blend of taste, textures and flavours. No wonder so many wanted me to teach how to make it!
Palak is a type of spinach with rounded green leaves that don’t have a big network of veins, making it a good candidate for blanching and puréeing. So it’s not surprising that blanching the palak is the first step in the process. Simply put all the spinach into a pan of boiling water and boil for 2 minutes without using a lid to cover the pan. This is important because if a lid is used, the volatile oils in these leaves will not be able to escape with the steam and this will result in bitter leaves. After the 2 minutes, transfer the palak into a bowl of cold water with some ice cubes to refresh it.
Paneer is cottage cheese and can be made at home quite easily. I was bitten by a lazybug a few days before I last made palak paneer so I didn’t bother to make my own and used the store-bought paneer instead. It really is quite simple to do though and I will post a nice and easy guide on how to make your own paneer soon!
Normally paneer pieces are just fried or added plain into the prepared curry at the end. I always marinate these cubes of paneer with a little lime juice, salt and half a teaspoon of cumin powder for half an hour to make it more interesting and add more flavour to the dish. I then sauté these cubes in a little oil to make them firm so that they won’t crumble when added to the palak.
As palak is not very common in certain parts of the world, I wanted to try making this dish with chard or collard greens. But it just never happened. See, still being lazy…I shall post the result when (or if!) I eventually try it out.
- Palak (spinach) 300g
- Paneer 200g
- Roasted cumin powder ½ teaspoon
- Lime juice ½ lime
- Onion (finely chopped) 1 big
- Cumin seeds 1 ½ teaspoon
- Ginger (crushed) ½ inch piece
- Garlic (crushed) 4 cloves
- Green chillies (finely chopped)1 – optional
- Tomato ( puréed) 2 medium
- Coriander powder 1 tablespoon
- Cumin powder 1 teaspoon
- Chilli powder ½ teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Cream 4 tablespoons
- Or Full cream milk ½ cup
- Sunflower oil (any refined oil) 3 tablespoons
- Cut the paneer into 1 cm cubes, marinate with the juice of half a lime, ½ tsp cumin powder and salt for 10 minutes.
- Blanch the spinach, refresh in ice water and grind into a fine paste. Set aside.
- Shallow fry the paneer cubes until light brown in a tbsp of oil and drain on a kitchen paper.
- Heat the rest of the oil and fry cumin seeds until it changes colour to a darker tone.
- Add chopped onions and sauté till transluscent.
- Add crushed garlic and ginger, followed by green chilli and fry till the onion becomes slightly brown. Add corriander, chilli and cumin powder and fry for a minute.
- Then add the tomato puree and fry for 4-5 mnts stirring often. Add salt to taste.
- Once the tomato mixture is fried add the spinach puree and paneer cubes. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add cream or milk and simmer till a glaze appears on top of the liquid.
- Add a squeeze of lime (optional) and serve with a swirl of cream.
4 thoughts on “Palak Paneer – Cottage cheese and spinach”
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I like the tip about marinading the paneer – I’ve never done that before. Paneer tends to be bland,especially if you pan fry it to get the crispy exterior then none of the palak flavors are soaked up.
This is a staple in my half punjabi household!
A relation in the UK had never heard of Palak, and instead regularly eats Saag Paneer. What is the difference?
Saag is mustard greens, whereas palak is spinach. Subtle difference in the flavor. Both dishes are popular in the same region.