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Easy Palak Paneer Recipe

Easy Palak Paneer Recipe

This palak paneer recipe is easy and it is one of my favorite vegetarian meals.

palak paneer in a metal bowl on a metal tray with a spoon and naan bread, shot from a low angle

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The Indian cheese paneer is simmered in a sauce of fresh spinach, curry spices, and aromatics. The result is flavorful, healthy, and quick to make. Palak Paneer makes a delicious vegetarian meal served with rice or naan.

What is Paneer?

Paneer is an Indian fresh cheese or cottage cheese.

To make the Indian dish palak paneer, it is simmered in a luscious curry scented pureed spinach sauce.

What’s not to love? The flavor is rich and creamy, with a hint of tanginess. Cooked into the bright green curried spinach sauce, it becomes tender and, although it seems impossible, even more creamy.

Where do you get paneer?

You can buy paneer in any Indian or South Asian grocery store or on Amazon.

And a little tip I recently learned from my favorite neighborhood Indian grocer: Store-bought paneer should be soaked for in hot water 15 minutes or so before cooking.

I recently tried my hand at homemade paneer and I was instantly in love. It is easy to make and even richer and creamier than what you can buy in the store.

It works just as well in this recipe as the store-bought variety. And you don’t need to soak it before adding it to this palak paneer recipe.

Adding coconut milk to the spinach-curry mixture for palak paneer

What ingredients do you need to make palak paneer?

I love to cook Indian food, but sometimes I get overwhelmed by the long lists of ingredients. That’s not a problem with this palak paneer recipe. In addition to the cheese, all you need are some fresh produce items and a few basic spices.

  • Spinach
  • Jalapeño or serrano chile
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Coconut oil
  • Onion
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Garam masala
  • Diced tomato (canned or fresh)
  • Coconut milk
  • Paneer

Garam masala is a spice mixture that gives you a ton of flavor without having to buy 10 different spices.

One thing to note is that spice mixtures like garam masala will vary in terms of whether and how much salt they contain. It’s always a good idea to start with a small amount of salt and then taste and add more as needed.

adding the cubed paneer to the pot

How to Make Palak Paneer

This Palak Paneer recipe is a breeze to whip up. Here are the easy steps:

  • Sautée onions and garlic.
  • Quickly blanch the spinach.
  • Puree the blanched spinach with chile, garlic, and ginger.
  • Simmer the spinach mixture with spices, sauteed onions and garlic, and coconut milk.
  • Add the paneer cheese and heat in the sauce.
  • Enjoy with naan or rice.
Overhead shot of palak paneer in a metal bowl on a gray stone counter. Next to the bowl of paneer, there is a bunch of cilantro and two pieces of naan bread

Is it necessary to blanch the spinach first?

This is a bit controversial and you’ll find passionate arguments for both methods. My personal preference is to blanch the spinach first because I find that when the spinach is added raw, it can have an astringent quality that I don’t care for. A quick blanch in hot water turns it tender and slightly sweet.

If you don’t want to blanch the spinach or don’t have fresh spinach, you can subtitute frozen spinach. Use 1 10-ounce package, thaw it at room temperature, and then squeeze out as much excess liquid as you can.

What is the difference between saag paneer and palak paneer?

You may have seen both Saag Paneer and Palak Paneer on restaurant menus. The two dishes are very similar, the main difference being that saag can refer to any leafy greens, while palak refers specifically to spinach.

What should you serve with this palak paneer recipe?

Serve this saucy dish with lots of warm roti, naan, or paratha, or over steamed basmati rice so you and your guests can enjoy every delicious drop.

overhead shot of Indian cheese and spinach curry in a metal bowl. On the side are a bowl of yellow rice, a bowl of masala curry, and a palm frond

More great recipes you’ll love

Yield: Serves 4

Palak Paneer (homemade Indian cheese with spinach curry)

Palak Paneer (homemade Indian cheese with spinach curry)

Palak Paneer is a vegetarian Indian dish that combines fresh farmer's-type cheese with a spicy spinach curry sauce. The sauce is usually enriched with cream, but here I've used coconut milk instead, which I think adds a nice extra layer of flavor, but you could certainly replace it with cream if you like. In a traditional recipe, the onions and garlic would likely be sauteed in butter or ghee, but I used coconut oil here instead. You could also use any type of vegetable oil like grapeseed or sunflower seed oil. If you want less of a kick, remove and discard the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno before adding it.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

For the spinach puree

  • 1 (10-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach
  • 1 jalapeno or Serrano chile, stemmed, seeds removed if desired
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled

For the curry

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ cup canned diced tomatoes (or 1 large fresh tomato, diced)
  • 1 (12-ounce) package paneer (see note) or 1 recipe homemade paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons coconut milk

Instructions

  1. Fill a medium mixing bowl with water and ice to make an ice bath for the spinach.
  2. Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the spinach leaves and remove from the heat. Let sit for about 1 to 2 minutes, until the leaves are wilted but are still bright green. Drain in a colander and transfer to the ice water bath. Let sit until the spinach is completely cooled. Drain.
  3. While the spinach is cooling, chop the chile, garlic, and ginger in a food processor. Once the spinach is cool, drain it and then squeeze it gently with your hands to remove any excess liquid. Add the spinach to the food processor and process to a smooth puree.
  4. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the cumin, garam masala, salt, and turmeric and stir for 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes along with the spinach puree and about ½ cup of water. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 5 minutes, until it has thickened.
  6. Stir in the coconut milk and the paneer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the paneer is heated through and softened. Serve hot, with rice or naan.

Notes

If you're using store-bought paneer, before starting the recipe, begin by placing the cubed paneer in a heat-proof bowl and covering with hot water. Let stand for about 15 minutes and then drain.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 227Total Fat 18gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 21mgSodium 564mgCarbohydrates 11gFiber 3gSugar 5gProtein 8g
pinterest pin for palak paneer. Top image is a low angle shot of the dish in a metal bowl. the text says www.allwaysdelicious.com palak paneer vegetarian and gluten free! the bottom image is an overhead shot of the dish in a metal bowl with a bundle of cilantro and some naan bread on the side.
Last Updated: August 26, 2020

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Christina

Friday 18th of October 2019

What an incredible recipe! I've totally fallen in love with the flavor!

All Ways Delicious

Saturday 19th of October 2019

Thank you, Christina! I love it too!

Aline

Thursday 17th of October 2019

I never had this before but my bf lived in India and he specifically asked for me to make a palak paneer, to which I responded "A WHAT??!" LOL Luckily I found your recipe so I could make it for him. The instructions were easy to follow and he loved it!!

All Ways Delicious

Thursday 17th of October 2019

I'm so glad he liked it, Aline! It is one of my favorite Indian dishes!

Jenni

Thursday 17th of October 2019

I made this for some friends this past weekend and they all loved it! It was easy to make and tasted so great! I will definitely be making it again!

All Ways Delicious

Thursday 17th of October 2019

That's great, Jenni! I'm so glad everyone liked it!

Fiorenza

Wednesday 16th of October 2019

I eat Indian food not as often as I actually would and have never cooked it at home, or at least not before seeing this recipe. I also prefer to boil some spinach a few minutes and so I did this dish too and they were definitely perfect, a different way to eat them. I found the paneer online and will buy some more! Thank you for sharing this recipe :-)

All Ways Delicious

Wednesday 16th of October 2019

Hi Fiorenza, Thanks so much for your comment! I'm glad you liked the recipe. It is one of my favorites! Robin

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