This palak paneer recipe is easy and it is one of my favorite vegetarian meals.
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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
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.
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.
- Jalapeño or serrano chile
- Coconut oil
- Garam masala
- Diced tomato (canned or fresh)
- Coconut milk
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.
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.
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,
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- 1 pound white fish fillet, cut into several pieces
- ¼ cup cilantro, plus additional for serving
- 1 to 3 tablespoons red or green curry paste (see note)
- 1 egg white
- 4 makrut lime leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced Chinese long beans (or sub green beans)
- ½ cup cooking oil (or enough to fill your skillet about ½-inch deep)
- Lime wedges, for serving
- In a food processor, combine the fish, curry paste, egg white, fish sauce, and sugar and pulse until the mixture forms a thick paste. Add the cornstarch and pulse until it is well incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the sliced beans.
- Heat the oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, until it shimmers.
- Form the fish mixture into balls a little larger than golf balls and then flatten them into ½-inch-thick patties.
- Add the patties to the skillet, 3 or 4 at a time. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until deep golden brown. Transfer the cooked patties to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat until all of the patties have been formed and fried.
- Serve hot with lime wedges, cilantro, and Sweet Thai Chili Dipping Sauce, if desired.
1. You can use just about any white fish for this recipe. I’ve made it with both cod and catfish. Other options would be haddock, pollock, grouper, or snapper.
2. You can use either red or green Thai curry paste in this recipe, though red is more common. I love green curry paste, though, and think it works just as well in these fish cakes. I tested this recipe using Mae Ploy red curry paste and Mae Ploy green curry paste. One tablespoon of the red was plenty, while I found the green (which is less spicy) required 2 tablespoons to really pop the flavor.
3. Whichever type of curry paste you choose, be careful how much you use. The spice level can vary widely between brands, so start with a smaller amount if you are not used to very spicy food. I usually use Mae Ploy curry pastes, which are very spicy. If I use more than 1 or 2 tablespoons, it is too spicy for my family. Thai Kitchen brand is easy to find in supermarkets, and it is much milder. I would use at least 3 tablespoons of it.
Amount Per Serving Calories 320Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 71mgSodium 729mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 2gSugar 6gProtein 21g
Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.
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
- Fill a medium mixing bowl with water and ice to make an ice bath for the spinach.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Amount Per Serving Calories 227Total Fat 18gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 21mgSodium 564mgCarbohydrates 11gFiber 3gSugar 5gProtein 8g