Palak Paneer – Better than the restaurant

In North India, if  you have guests coming over for lunch or dinner, it is must to have a paneer dish on the menu. Though there are so many paneer recipes to choose from, Palak Paneer definitely stands out. The spinach gravy is very different from other paneer recipes and it does not need cream, cashews or loads of butter to enhance the taste. Palak Paneer not only tastes delicious but is also packed with vitamins: a great way to serve spinach to kids.

Soft paneer cubes coated in a smooth mouth watering spinach puree jazzed up with aromatic spices and herbs: a scrumptious classic recipe that beats the restaurant anyday!

I usually avoid ordering Palak Paneer at restaurants as I have doubts about how well the spinach is washed before cooking. But on the few occasions that I have tried it, I have found the spinach under cooked and bland. I bet you will feel the same once you try out this recipe at home.

Three things that really set this recipe apart are: use of my 3Cs spice powder, cooking the spinach until it does not taste bitter and finally finishing it with some dried fenugreek leaves. Do NOT skip the fenugreek leaves.

This is one of my signature recipes 🙂 as I always get rave reviews from friends and family and today I am sharing it with you.

Prep time: 20 min
Cooking time: 45 min
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of spinach (palak)
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, boiled and pureed
  • 2-3 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 250 grams Paneer, cubed
  • Dry spice powders: turmeric, red chilli, coriander
  • 4 tsp 3Cs powder (check recipe on my blog)
  • 4 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup (optional)
  • 1/2 cup milk or fresh cream
  • 1tsp sugar

Method

Preparing Spinach

  1. Remove the stems from spinach and thoroughly wash spinach under running water 2-3 times using a colander.IMG_9419
  2. Boil water in a deep pan. When the water starts boiling, ad the washed spinach leaves.IMG_9420
  3. Boil for 5-7 minutes as the leaves start to wilt. Do not cover the boiling leaves as this will discolour the spinach. You want to retain this dark green colour.IMG_9422
  4. Drain the water using a colander.
  5. Once the leaves have cooled down, puree the spinach in a blender.

The tempering

  1. Heat 2-3 oil or ghee in a pan.
  2. When the oil is hot, add 2tsp of 3Cs powder and 1 tsp cumin. IMG_9454IMG_9455
  3. Once the seeds start to crackle, add 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste.IMG_9457
  4. Cook until the raw smell goes away. Next add the chopped onion and cook until it is translucent.IMG_9458
  5.  Add salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder.IMG_9459IMG_9460
  6. Add the tomato puree. You can either add blended raw tomatoes or  boil them, remove the skin and blend them. I use both the ways and does not make much difference in the taste.IMG_9464
  7. When the tomatoes are half cooked, add the dry spice powders: coriander power and red chilli powder.img_9466img_9467IMG_9469
  8. When the tomatoes are well cooked, add the spinach puree.img_9474.jpg
  9. Continue to cook the puree on a low heat for 5-8 minutes until the raw bitterness of spinach is gone.
  10. Next add 1-2 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp tomato ketchup. IMG_9477IMG_9478
  11. Add 3-4 tbsp of crushed kasoori methi(dried fenugreek leaves). This is the star ingredient in this recipe. Sprinkle 1tsp 3Cs powder on top and mix well. IMG_9480.JPG
  12. Next add 2-3 tbsp cream. You can substitute the cream with 1/2 cup full fat milk instead of milk.IMG_9481
  13. Cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes allowing the flavours to blend. Do a taste test and check if more salt, sugar, ketchup, 3Cs powder or kasoori methi is required. (See Note 1)
  14. Once you get the right flavour, add paneer. Paneer is usually cut into cubes in this recipe. I do not fry the paneer but always soak it in warm water for 2-3 minutes before adding. Soaking in warm water makes the paneer soft. (See Note 2)IMG_9475IMG_9482

‘Better than the restaurant’ – Palak Paneer is ready. Devour it piping hot with Lachha Paranthas.IMG_9483.JPG

Note 1: I usually check the taste 2-3 times and adjust the flavors before finishing the dish. All these items listed in step 13 contribute to the flavour but they need to be in the right proportion to get the perfect taste. So, go slow and easy and add more as required.

Note 2: You can always fry the paneer before adding it but do soak it in warm water after frying. Soaking the fried paneer in warm water will prevent it from getting a rubbery texture.

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