Recipe For Palak Paneer (Fried Indian Cheese in Garam Masala and Cream Spinach)


There are few dishes as synonymous with Indian cuisine as palak paneer . After tandoori chicken and naan (Indian round fluffy bread made of white flour), it’s probably the most common item on menus at Indian restaurants. Variations of the dish are prepared all across the country.

At the core, though, palak paneer is a very simple dish. Spinach (or palak in Urdu) is cooked with a spicy cream mixture and studded with fried Indian farmer’s cheese, called paneer. The cream is spiced with the same masala that is used in many other dishes. If you’re new to Indian cuisine, this is a great introduction. You’ll never go back to regular old cream spinach again.

1. Info for Palak Paneer (Fried Indian Cheese in Garam Masala and Cream Spinach)

  • Cook Time: unavailable
  • Total Time: unavailable
  • Servings: 6
  • Calories: unavailable

2. Ingredients for Palak Paneer (Fried Indian Cheese in Garam Masala and Cream Spinach)

  • 2 (1 lb) packages fresh baby spinach (pre-packaged)
  • 4 tablespoons ghee
  • 16 oz paneer, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 whole green Thai bird chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf, torn in halves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garam masala spice mix
  • 1/4 teapoon green peppercorns, freshly ground
  • 3 tablespoons full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder

3. Directions:

  1. For the paneer: Heat the canola oil in a pan and fry all the cubes of paneer until they are golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel. Reserve the oil. Set the paneer aside.
  2. For the masala sauce: In a medium-sized pan, heat the remaining oil. Add the shallot and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the onions until nicely golden over medium low heat, stirring frequently, (it may take 5-10 minutes). Add the chopped tomato, bay leaf, garam masala spice mix and turmeric powder. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then add the yogurt. Remove the bay leaf and transfer to mini-blender, blend until the sauce is smooth. Add the heavy cream. Set aside.
  3. For the palak (spinach): Wash the spinach thoroughly in a large bowl of water. Drain, then remove all the excess water using a salad spinner. Roughly chop all the spinach leaves. In a large sauté pan or a large wok, add the minced garlic and 2 tablespoons of ghee. Cook the garlic for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Add the ginger garlic paste (see tips), red chili powder and 2 whole green bird chiles. Cook for another minute. Add 1/3 of the amount of spinach to the pan, constantly lift the spinach leaves using 2 slotted spooned on each side of the pan. The leaves will start to wilt after 30 seconds or so. Add the other 1/3 of the spinach and repeat the same procedure for 30 seconds. Season with a little salt (this will prevent the spinach from changing color and keep a bright green color). Repeat one more times with the rest of the spinach, then transfer all the container of the pan into a large bowl. Remove the green chiles, coarsely chop them and reserve them for garnish later (do not slice them if you don’t want to make it too spicy). Set aside the excess water from the spinach if you have any. You can use the liquid to thin the masala sauce if the sauce starts to thicken too much (I usually don’t). Using a handheld mixer, coarsely blend the spinach (about 2-3 pulses). Do NOT over-blend.
  4. For the palak paneer: In the same pan, add the rest of the ghee. When the ghee is melted, add the masala sauce. Bring to a boil until it’s thick and creamy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the fried paneer. Cook it down for about 1-2 minutes so the paneer soaks up all the sauce and is nicely coated. Season with salt and pepper. Add the  spinach and toss it for about a minute. Put the green chiles back in the palak paneer.
  5. Serve with steamed basmati rice, naan or roti (flat Indian wheat bread). You can decorate with a few fennel seeds if you like.
  6. Bon appétit!

Please rate this article