Palak paneer, another popular north Indian dish, is a luscious spinach gravy adorned with melt in the mouth paneer cheese.
There are so many ways of preparing this , but I love to make it the way I’ve learnt from my mum. It’s involves a simple preparation of blanching ,pureeing and then cooking the spinach to make an exquisite gravy. There are no spice powders used here, the cumin seeds and the humble onion add enough flavor, along with the ginger and garlic. Onions should always be sauteed on a low heat, this breaks down the natural sugar present in onions, making it sweet. The heavy cream definitely adds to a rich finish, but it can be avoided . For a vegan version, you can substitute paneer with tofu.
250 grams/ half pound organic baby spinach
3 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger
green chilllies, as per desired heat ( I used 1/2 of a Serrano chilly)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
250 grams paneer, cubed
2 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons cream
pinch of sugar(optional)
salt to taste
1.Heat water in a pan, bring it to a boil, add little salt. When the water starts boiling, add the washed spinach leaves , leave it for about 30 seconds.
2.Strain the spinach leaves in a colander, collect the spinach stock for later use.
3.Immediately transfer the drained spinach leaves in to a bowl of cold water with ice cubes (This process is called blanching, it prevents the spinach from further cooking, and also helps in retaining the lush green color of the spinach).
4.In an electric grinder/mixer, make a puree of the blanched spinach ( squeeze out excess water) , garlic, ginger and green chillies, using very little water (less than 1/4 cup, add water little at a time, the puree shouldn’t be runny)
5.Heat oil in a deep bottomed pan, add cumin seeds, let it splutter.
6.Once it splutters, add chopped onion, and saute on medium low heat until translucent.
7.Next, add the prepared spinach puree, and mix it with onions.
8.Rinse the grinder jar with about a cup of the spinach stock and add it to the pan, stir well,season with salt ( check salt accordingly as we have already added in the 1st step) and let the spinach cook for another 5 minutes.You can sprinkle some garam masala if you want to now, and mix well. ( I did not add garam masala )
9.Add the cubed paneer , stir gently, let the paneer cook for another minute or two.
10.Add the cream and a pinch of sugar, mix it gently.
11.Switch of the heat. To garnish, drop small spoonfuls of cream, and swirl them in the gravy to create swirls, drop in a few ginger julienne’s. Serve with roti / naan / chapati or jeera(cumin) rice.