How to Make Palak Paneer: A Nutritious and Flavorful Delight

Palak Paneer is a popular North Indian dish that combines the goodness of spinach (palak) with the rich and creamy texture of paneer (Indian cottage cheese). This nutritious dish is not only delicious but also packed with vitamins and minerals, making it a favorite among vegetarians and health enthusiasts. Here’s a detailed guide on how to make this classic dish at home.

Ingredients

For the Palak (Spinach) Puree:

  • 2 large bunches of fresh spinach (approximately 500 grams)
  • 1-2 green chilies (optional, for added heat)
  • 2 cups water (for blanching)
  • Ice water (for retaining the green color)

For the Paneer:

  • 250 grams paneer, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons oil or ghee (clarified butter)

For the Masala:

  • 2 tablespoons oil or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 large tomatoes, pureed
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cream (optional, for richness)
  • Salt to taste

For Garnish:

  • Fresh cream (optional)
  • Fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Spinach Puree

  1. Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt.
  2. In a large pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
  3. Add the spinach leaves and green chilies (if using) to the boiling water and blanch for 2-3 minutes until the spinach is wilted.
  4. Immediately transfer the blanched spinach to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and retain the vibrant green color.
  5. Drain the spinach and blend it to a smooth puree using a blender or food processor. Set aside.

Step 2: Prepare the Paneer

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil or ghee in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the paneer cubes and fry until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.

Step 3: Prepare the Masala

  1. In the same pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil or ghee over medium heat.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
  3. Add the finely chopped onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.
  4. Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for 2-3 minutes until the raw smell disappears.
  5. Add the pureed tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomato mixture thickens and the oil begins to separate.
  6. Add the turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala, and red chili powder. Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Step 4: Combine Spinach Puree and Masala

  1. Add the spinach puree to the pan and mix well with the masala.
  2. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the fried paneer cubes to the spinach mixture and stir gently to coat the paneer with the sauce.
  4. Add fresh cream (if using) and salt to taste. Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Step 5: Garnish and Serve

  1. Transfer the Palak Paneer to a serving bowl.
  2. Garnish with a drizzle of fresh cream and chopped coriander leaves.
  3. Serve hot with naan, roti, or steamed rice.

Tips for Perfect Palak Paneer

  1. Fresh Spinach: Use fresh spinach leaves for the best flavor and color. Frozen spinach can be used, but fresh spinach gives a vibrant green color and fresh taste.
  2. Blanching Spinach: Blanching the spinach and immediately transferring it to ice water helps retain its green color.
  3. Paneer: Frying the paneer cubes gives them a nice texture, but you can also use raw paneer if you prefer a softer texture.
  4. Cream: Adding cream is optional, but it adds richness to the dish. You can also use cashew cream for a vegan version.
  5. Spice Levels: Adjust the red chili powder to suit your heat tolerance.

Conclusion

Palak Paneer is a nutritious and flavorful dish that is a staple in many Indian households. Its vibrant green color and creamy texture make it not only visually appealing but also delicious and healthy. By following this detailed recipe, you can create an authentic Palak Paneer at home and enjoy it with your favorite Indian breads or rice. This dish is sure to be a hit with your family and friends!

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