Palak Paneer is a famous vegetarian dish that originated in India Paneer is a creamy Indian cheese that’s made from curdled milk and some sort of fruit or vegetable acid like lemon juice. This deliciously creamy and vibrantly green dish is made with paneer in a mildly spiced fresh spinach sauce. This is a delightful and easy to make vegetarian main you just have to try! To maintain good bone health, foods rich in calcium, vitamins, magnesium and potassium must be consumed. Green leafy vegetables
such as spinach are a rich source of bone-healthy vitamins and
Health benefits of palak paneer :
Palak paneer can be an extremely healthy dish due to the presence of palak (spinach) in it. Other ingredients present in a general recipe of palak paneer includes paneer, onions, and tomatoes. Here are some health benefits it can offer:
- Palak paneer is a rich source of protein and can help facilitate the process of weight management that involves muscle building through workouts.
- It contains onions which are a good source of antioxidants and can promote hair health and improve immunity.
- Vitamin C can help boost immunity. The tomatoes present in the dish is a rich source of vitamin C.
- Spinach is an extremely healthy vegetable and is a rich source of vitamin A, C, calcium, iron, lutein, magnesium, potassium and fibre. It promotes eye, heart and bone health.
Despite being a healthy dish, unmoderated consumption can lead to consumption of excessive calories. This can cause harm to the body. Furthermore, you must be mindful about the amount of ingredients being used in the preparation of the dish. You can further lower the calories of the dish by using low-fat paneer instead of the regular one.
Sounds like you skipped the blanching step. Raw spinach leaves have high levels of a compound known as oxalic acid that causes a bitter taste. Blanching your spinach leaves (i.e. cooking them briefly in hot water) will remove the oxalic acid, which not only makes the spinach taste better but will also make the nutrients more available for your body.
If you blanched the spinach and it still tastes bitter, try adding a tablespoon or two of 35-50% cream. The fat content will help to smooth the bitter taste.
I would not recommend freezing palak paneer because the paneer will lose its soft texture when you reheat it again. Moreover as per Ayurveda, fresh cooked food has maximum prana (life force). It is therefore better to eat palak paneer (and all foods) when they are freshly cooked and hot or warm.
Feel free to swap in cashew paste, malai (a layer of cream collected on top of cooled milk that has been boiled earlier), or coconut cream.
Good question! Prior to freezing, spinach is already blanched to protect the cellular structure of the veg. As such, you can skip the blanching step and move along to blending. But remember to squeeze all the water from the thawed spinach.
Easy Palak Paneer Recipe !!
For spinach puree :
- 250 grams spinach or 5 to 6 cups roughly chopped spinach
- 1 to 2 green chilies or 1 Serrano pepper or 1 to 2 Anaheim peppers – chopped
- 1 to 2 small to medium garlic cloves – roughly chopped (optional)
- 1 inch ginger – roughly chopped
- 3 cups water for blanching spinach
- 3 cups water for ice bath
Other ingredients :
- 2 tablespoon oil or ghee (clarified butter) or butter
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 small to medium tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
- ⅓ cup finely chopped onions or 1 small to medium sized onion
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic or 4 to 5 small to medium garlic cloves
- ⅓ cup finely chopped tomatoes or 1 small to medium sized tomato
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper or paprika
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) – optional
- ½ cup water or add as required
- ¼ or ½ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder – add more if required
- 200 to 250 grams Paneer or tofu
- 2 tablespoons low fat cream or 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi leaves (dry fenugreek leaves) – optional. kasuri methi is crushed and added right towards the end. just before adding cream.
- salt as required or taste
For garnish :
- 1 to 2 teaspoons cream (low fat or heavy cream or cooking cream) or butter for garnish – optional
- ½ to 1 inch ginger – julienne
- lemon or lime wedges or slices
Making spinach puree :
- Rinse the palak or spinach leaves very well in running water. Tender stem are fine. If the stems are stringy, then discard the stems.
- Boil 3 cups water in a pan or microwave or electric heater. Add ¼ teaspoon salt to the hot water and stir. When the water comes to a rolling boil, switch off the flame. Add the spinach leaves in the hot water. Let the palak leaves sit in the water for about 1 minute.
- After 1 minute, using a pasta tong, take the leaves.
- Immediately add the palak or spinach leaves in a pan or bowl containing ice cold water. This method helps in preserving the green color of the spinach. Just add 8 to 10 ice cubes to 3 cups water to get cold water. Allow the spinach leaves to be in the cold water for a minute.
- Then drain the ice cold water. Add the spinach in a blender or grinder jar with chopped ginger, garlic and green chilies.
- Make a smooth palak puree. No need to add water while making the puree. Keep the spinach puree aside.
Sautéing onions and tomatoes
- Heat oil or ghee or butter in a pan or kadai. If using butter, melt it a low flame making sure that the butter does not brown.
- Add the cumin and let them splutter.
- Then add the tej patta or Indian bay leaf.
- Add the finely chopped onions. Saute till the onions become golden.
- Then add the finely chopped garlic. Saute till the raw aroma of garlic goes away. No need to brown the garlic.
- Add the chopped tomatoes. Stir and saute the tomatoes till they soften.
- Once the tomatoes are softened and you see fat releasing from the sides of the mixture. Then add the turmeric powder, red chili powder and asafoetida/hing.
- Mix very well.
Making palak paneer :
- Then add the palak puree and mix well.
- Add about ½ cup water or as required. Mix again.
- Simmer for 6 to 7 minutes or more till the palak or spinach is cooked. Season with salt. The gravy or sauce will also thicken by now.
- Stir and add garam masala powder.
- Stir again and then add the paneer (Indian cottage cheese) cubes.
- Mix very well and switch off the heat. Be quick as we don't want heat the paneer for more 30 seconds to 1 minute. Overcooking paneer will make them chewy and dense.
- Lastly, add 2 tablespoons of low-fat cream. If using heavy whipping cream, then add 1 tablespoon of it. Stir gently again so that the cream gets incorporated in the gravy uniformly.
- Pour the palak paneer in serving bowls. While serving you can top it with some butter or cream.
- You can also drizzle a few drops of lime or lemon juice on top along with ginger julienne on the palak paneer.
Serving Suggestions :
- Stir and serve palak paneer hot with some roti. It also goes very well with Indian breads like tandoori roti, phulka, paratha or naan.
- Being a versatile dish, it also accompanies rice dishes from the indian cuisine like cumin rice, vegetable pulao, ghee rice, saffron rice and even a simple steamed rice very well.
- Blanching: I always recommend blanching spinach when making palak paneer recipe. Blanching removes the raw taste, bitterness and metallic flavor of spinach and makes it palatable without having any after taste. Apart from preserving the green color of the spinach leaves, it also gets rid of harmful microorganisms and pesticide residues.
- Pan-frying paneer: The paneer or tofu cubes can also be lightly fried and then added to the spinach sauce. In this case, you don’t need to cook the paneer or tofu in the gravy as when frying they are already cooked.
- Spinach: Use fresh tender spinach leaves. Remove the stems before from the leaves if they are dense or stringy. Tender stems can be added. You can also use frozen spinach instead of fresh spinach.
- Paneer: Use fresh and soft paneer or better to use homemade paneer. For packaged paneer or frozen paneer follow the instructions written on the pack.
- Optional ingredients: Kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and asafoetida (hing) can be skipped if you do not have these.
- Vegan variations: Substitute paneer with tofu. Use cashew or coconut cream in place of regular cream, or just skip the cream altogether.
- Scaling: Make a large batch of this recipe if making for parties or get-togethers.