Palak Paneer

You’ll probably laugh at me when I tell you about my very first paneer experience, but bear in mind this was about 20 odd years ago and I didn’t have a clue what paneer was, let alone how to cook it! I was making lasagne for dinner and asked my husband to buy some cheese for the white sauce, he returned with a block of what I thought was cheddar cheese. Upon opening the packet I asked him what he had bought as the cheese didn’t smell like cheddar, it didn’t taste like cheddar and it wouldn’t even grate like cheddar! He had bought a block of paneer without reading the label – needless to say it ended up in the bin and I was puzzled as to who would use such a tasteless cheese and for what? Fast forward 20 years later and I now know what paneer is and how to cook a delicious Palak Paneer (spinach with paneer).

The very first time I tasted Palak Paneer was when my Pakistani friend brought some over for a get together I had at my house about ten years ago; we all had to cook a dish and bring it along and her offering was the paneer. Having a get together where everyone has to bring a dish along is so exciting because you get to taste dishes from different cuisines that you may not necessarily have discovered otherwise, which was the case here. It was love at first bite, I was totally in love with this dish and had to learn how to make it, the rest is history as the saying goes.

When I shot this recipe I wanted to make the dish quick and easy to execute so decided to skip pan frying the paneer cubes first as I normally do for both this recipe and my Chilli Paneer recipe; I didn’t think it would make a huge difference to the finished dish, but I was WRONG and I have to admit, I much prefer the taste and texture when the paneer cubes are fried in some spices beforehand, check the recipe just mentioned for details on how to do this. I would highly recommend frying the cubes beforehand, however cooking this dish without frying the cubes still results in a tasty palak paneer.

There are so many ways to cook paneer and the possibilities are endless, the most important thing to remember is that the paneer will take on the flavour of the spices and ingredients you are using, so it’s important to use ingredients and spices you enjoy.

Adding ground Panch Phoron (Indian five spice) to the cubes and frying beforehand with a pinch of salt, mixed curry powder and a little crushed garlic is my favourite way of infusing the paneer with flavour, I’m just gutted I didn’t do this on this occasion. However. I’m hoping that those of you who want a better flavour will add this step to the recipe – if you do fry beforehand, add in the fried cubes to the rest of the ingredients in the same place as stated below on this recipe.

You can use any type of green leaf to cook this dish in place of the spinach; mustard greens, fenugreek leaves, watercress or any type of leafy green can be used as a replacement. The dish would be known as ‘Saag Paneer’, instead of Palak Paneer in that case, as ‘Palak’ means ‘spinach’ specifically.

If this is your first time making paneer, I really want you to fall in love with this dish and hope you enjoy it as much as I did the first time I tried it. So here’s what you’ll need to do….

Serves 4 – 6

You will need: for Palak Paneer

250g paneer
300g spinach (I’m using baby spinach leaves)
4 – 5 cloves of garlic
1/2 an inch of ginger
1 medium onion
2 tomatoes
3 – 4 tbsp of oil
2 bay leaves
salt (to taste)
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
5 green chillies
coriander for garnishing (optional)

Method:

Palak-Paneer

Start by dicing the paneer into 2cm cubes if it is not already cubed. I prefer to buy a block of paneer and not the ready cubed paneer, as I find the cubed paneer doesn’t look clean and sharp, it’s just a personal preference.

Palak-Paneer

Peel 4 – 5 cloves of garlic and a 1 inch piece of ginger and crush using a pestle and mortar, or alternatively grate.

Peel and slice 1 onion and dice 2 tomatoes.

Palak-Paneer

Add 3 – 4 tbsp of oil to a frying pan, once heated add the sliced onion along with 2 bay leaves, the crushed garlic and ginger and 1 tsp salt, adjust salt to taste.

Palak-Paneer

Cover the frying pan and allow the onions to cook and soften for a few minutes.

Wash the spinach at this point and chop if necessary (I didn’t bother chopping as I used baby leaf spinach).

Once the onions are soft (bottom left photo) add the spices; 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp cumin powder and 1 tsp coriander powder….

Palak-Paneer

….allow the spices to fry for several minutes to remove the raw taste.

Add the spinach to the pan and cover to cook through.

Mix after a couple of minutes to help the spinach wilt.Palak-Paneer

Once the spinach has completely wilted add the diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.

Next add the diced paneer and mix through. If you want extra flavour, fry the paneer beforehand with a few simple spices as I normally do in my Chilli Paneer recipe.

Slice the green chillies and add them to the pan too.

Palak-Paneer

Cover and cook the paneer for about 5 – 8 minutes until the paneer is hot all the way through.

Palak-Paneer

Garnish with coriander and serve the Palak Paneer hot with rice or your favourite flat bread.

If you enjoy the paneer as much as I do you won’t even need a side dish, I can eat this on it’s own any time of the day!

Bon Appetit”

Palak Paneer
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4 - 6
Ingredients
  • 250g paneer
  • 300g spinach (I'm using baby spinach leaves)
  • 4 - 5 cloves of garlic
  • ½ an inch of ginger
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 3 - 4 tbsp of oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 5 green chillies
  • coriander for garnishing (optional)
Method
  1. Start by dicing the paneer into 2cm cubes if it is not already cubed. I prefer to buy a block of paneer and not the ready cubed paneer as I find the cubed paneer doesn't look clean and sharp, it's just a personal preference.
  2. Peel 4 - 5 cloves of garlic and a 1 inch piece of ginger and crush using a pestle and mortar or alternatively grate.
  3. Peel and slice 1 onion and dice 2 tomatoes.
  4. Add 3 - 4 tbsp of oil to a frying pan, once heated add the sliced onion along with 2 bay leaves, the crushed garlic and ginger and 1 tsp salt, adjust to taste if necessary.
  5. Cover the frying pan and allow the onions to cook and soften for a few minutes.
  6. Wash the spinach at this point and chop if necessary (I didn't bother chopping as I used baby leaf spinach).
  7. Once the onions are soft (bottom left photo) add the spices; 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp cumin powder and 1 tsp coriander powder....
  8. allow the spices to fry for several minutes to remove the raw taste.
  9. Add the spinach to the pan and cover to cook through.
  10. Mix after a couple of minutes to help the spinach wilt.
  11. Once the spinach has completely wilted add the diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.
  12. Next add the diced paneer and mix through. If you want extra flavour, fry the paneer beforehand with a few simple spices as I normally do in my Chilli Paneer recipe.
  13. Slice the green chillies and add them to the pan too.
  14. Cover and cook the paneer for about 5 - 8 minutes until the paneer is hot all the way through.
  15. Garnish with coriander and serve the Palak Paneer hot with rice or your favourite flat bread.
  16. If you enjoy the paneer as much as I do you won't even need a side dish, I can eat this on it's own any time of the day!

If you like the recipe please share with friends and family, also follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Questions? Leave a comment below or message me on Facebook.

 

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Comments 2

  1. Sakina
    Reply

    Tried this recipe and it turned out great!

    10 October, 2017
    • afelia’s kitchen
      Reply

      Thanks for giving it a try, so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 xx

      10 October, 2017

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