palak paneer – one of the most popular indian dishes. soft paneer cubes cooked in a smooth spinach curry.
for the palak puree:
200 to 250 grams fresh spinach/palak, about 7 to 9 oz spinach
1 or 2 green chilies, chopped
1 or 2 small to medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped (optional)
½ inch ginger, roughly chopped
3 cups water for blanching spinach
3 cups water for ice bath
for the palak curry:
1 small to medium sized onion, finely chopped, about ? cup finely chopped onion
1 small or medium sized tomato, chopped, about ? cup finely chopped tomatoes
4 to 5 small to medium garlic cloves/lahsun, finely chopped
½ tsp cumin seeds/jeera
¼ tsp turmeric powder/haldi
½ tsp red chili powder (optional)
a pinch of asafoetida/hing (optional)
¼ or ½ tsp garam masala powder (add more if required)
1 small to medium tej patta/indian bay leaf
200 to 250 gms paneer or tofu, about 7 to 9 oz cottage cheese
? to ½ cup water or add as required
1 or 2 tbsp cream, low fat 25% to 35% (i used amul cream)
2 tbsp oil or ghee or unsalted butter
1 tsp kasuri methi leaves/dry fenugreek leaves (optional. kasuri methi is crushed and added right towards the end. just before adding cream. )
salt as required
a few teaspoons of cream or butter for topping the palak paneer (optional)
½ inch ginger, julienned
lemon or lime wedges or slices
making the spinach puree:
rinse the palak or spinach leaves very well in running water. tender stem are fine. if the stems are stringy, then discard the stems.
boil 3 cups water in a pan or microwave or electric heater. add ¼ tsp salt to the hot water and stir. then add the palak leaves in the hot water. close with a lid and let the palak leaves sit in the water for 2-3 mins.
strain the palak leaves.
immediately add the palak or spinach leaves in a pan or bowl containing ice cold water. this method helps in preserving the green color of the spinach. just add 8 to 10 ice cubes to 3 cups water to get cold water. allow the spinach leaves to be in the cold water for a minute or two.
then drain the ice cold water. add the spinach in a blender or grinder jar with chopped ginger, garlic and green chilies.
make a smooth palak puree. no need to add water while making the puree. keep the spinach puree aside.
making the palak curry:
heat oil or ghee or butter in a pan or kadai. if using butter, melt it a low flame making sure that the butter does not brown.
add the cumin and let them splutter.
then add the tej patta or bay leaf.
add the finely chopped onions. saute till the onions become golden.
then add the finely chopped garlic. saute till the raw aroma of garlic goes away. no need to brown the garlic.
add the chopped tomatoes. stir and saute the tomatoes till they soften.
once the tomatoes are softened and you see fat releasing from the sides of the mixture. then add the turmeric powder, red chili powder and asafoetida/hing.
stir very well.
then add the palak puree.
add about ? to ½ cup water or as required. stir again.
simmer for 6-7 minutes or more till the palak or spinach is cooked. season with salt. the gravy or sauce will also thicken by now.
stir and add garam masala powder.
stir again and then add the paneer/cottage cheese cubes.
stir gently and simmer on a low flame till the paneer cubes become soft and succulent. about 1 to 2 minutes.
lastly add cream. stir gently again so that the cream gets incorporated in the palak paneer gravy uniformly. switch off the flame.
stir and serve the palak paneer hot with some rotis, naan or jeera rice. you can top the palak paneer with some butter or cream also while serving. also drizzle a few drops of lime or lemon juice on top along with ginger julienne