What is palak paneer?
Palak paneer is basically India’s answer to a creamy spinach dip, or creamed spinach, or spinach lasagna. It’s morsels of cottage cheese (paneer) cooked in spinach (palak) gravy with aromatic spices. A moderately simple recipe to make, this vegetarian north Indian dish is however not for impatient cooks. The best palak paneer is made with perseverance. After adding the blanched spinach to the masala, one has to cook it over low heat, stirring constantly, until the spinach turns very dark green and starts releasing oil. The difference between a good palak paneer and a not so good palak paneer is that the good palak paneer is cooked for much longer until there is no bitterness left from the spinach or spices.
There are a variety of palak paneer recipes. A homestyle palak paneer typically doesn’t use onions, which gives it a bright green color. A restaurant-style or dhaba style palak paneer typically uses onions and lots of garlic with a variety of other spices. Dhaba style palak paneer is usually spicier and richer than the homestyle version.
What is Indian cottage cheese?
Paneer or Indian cottage cheese is different from the American kind in that paneer is very firm, has very little moisture, and can be easily cut into cubes. It’s made by curdling milk with some sort of acid like lime juice. A block of store-bought paneer resembles a block of firm tofu. Paneer is an unaged, soft cheese that doesn’t melt.
How to make palak Paneer?
Best Dhaba style palak paneer recipe
- water for blanching
- salt to taste
- 350 gram spinach
- 3 tbsp oil
- 500 gram paneer cubed
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 dry red chilies
- 6 cloves garlic about 30 grams, chopped
- 1 large onion about 200 grams, chopped
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 2 tomatoes about 100 grams, chopped
- 2-3 cardamoms
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 tsp garam masala optional
- 1 tbsp butter
- Bring water to a boil, add salt and spinach. Let boil for 30-45 seconds. Remove from heat, drain and transfer to a bowl with cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add paneer and fry on each side for no more than 30 seconds. Remove into a bowl. Add 1 tsp salt and turmeric powder and pour 2 cups of warm water. Set aside.
- To the same oil, add cumin seeds, garlic, and dry red chilies. Saute for 30 seconds and add onions. Add salt and sugar.
- When the onions start browning, add cumin powder and chili powder. Saute for 2-3 more minutes.
- Now add tomatoes and cook until they turn soft.
- Grind this onion masala and spinach together into a smooth paste.
- Heat 1 more tsp oil in the same pan and add cardamoms. Now add the spinach mix and cook over low heat until it turns dark green and oil separates.
- Add paneer and let it simmer for 2 minutes.
- Adjust salt and sugar, add garam masala if desired. Now add cream, stir and remove from heat.
- Serve with roti, naan, or rice.