A very popular North Indian vegetarian dish, Palak Paneer aka Saag Paneer is there on the menu of every Indian restaurant. Paneer or Indian cottage cheese is the star ingredient for this creamy vegetarian dish where creamed spinach forms the gravy to showcase the cubed paneer. You can choose to either fry the paneer or keep it in its original form, it tastes great both ways. It is a relatively quick dish to cook and very nutritious. Make sure not to overcook the spinach or it becomes very dark in colour and loses most of its nutrients.
To get the full-bodied flavour, I use mustard oil for cooking and for tempering. You can also use butter or ghee for the tempering if that’s the flavour you prefer. Though you can use some cream to garnish, it is not at all necessary. This dish tastes great without the additional saturated fats. I like my palak paneer a little on the spicy side with lots of garlic. It goes wonderfully well with naan, roti or even rice. Today, I had it with my keto friendly roti( will share the recipe soon) and some home-made lemon pickle… a delicious lunch, if I may say so!
I use store bought paneer for my paneer dishes. It can taste very chewy and rubbery, if not cooked properly. The trick to make sure paneer stays melt in your mouth soft, cube it, rinse it and soak it in BOILING HOT WATER, while you get rest of the dish ready!
You can use fresh or frozen spinach; it tastes great either way! During summer when my garden is producing loads of swiss chard, I use that to make this dish and it tastes just the same! In fact, I have even used broccoli at times along with spinach a few times when I didn’t have enough spinach😜 . So overall, a quick and easy crowd-pleasing dish !
Spinach leaves 2 lbs washed and rinsed or 1 packet frozen compact ( 1 lb)
1/2 onion chopped
1 small tomato
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp ginger paste
2 green chillies
300 gm cubed Paneer
2 Tbsp Mustard oil (preferred) or Oil of your choice
salt and Chilli powder to taste
1 cup hot water
1 Tbsp canola oil/butter/mustard oil
1/2 onion thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
A pinch asafoetida powder
1 green chilli split length wise
Soak the cubed paneer in boiling hot water, till you are ready to use it.
Heat 2 tbsp mustard oil in a heavy base pan.
Add minced garlic, green chillies and ginger paste, followed by the chopped onion. Keep the heat at medium high. Add a tsp of salt and keep stirring till the onion is nicely caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add chopped tomato and cook till oil starts to separate from the masala. Add chopped spinach to it.
Cook till the spinach is soft but still vibrant green in colour, about 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool down.
Meanwhile in a separate pan, add the oil/ghee for tempering, and when it is hot add the mustard seeds cumin seeds and asafoetida
When the seeds sputter, add green chilli, garlic and onion. Cook till the onions are soft and light golden in colour.
When the spinach has cooled down, run it through the blender to make it into a smooth paste.
Return it to the pan at medium heat and add drained paneer to it. Adjust salt and chilli powder to taste.
Let it come to a simmer, reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes.
When ready to serve, pour it in a serving bowl and garnish with the reserved tempering.
Enjoy hot with a roti, naan or rice!