Palak paneer! A delicious Punjabi Indian dish made with Indian cheese (paneer) and a creamy spiced spinach gravy that goes perfectly well with naan, roti or rice. The best part is that this dish is vegetarian. Indian food has got to be one of my favourite cuisines to make. To say that Indian food has the perfect combination, use and balance of spices and ingredients would be a gross understatement. Have you eaten out at an Indian restaurant and been dumbfounded by how delicious everything is and just accepted you would never be able to make the same dishes at home? Well, this was my mindset for years until I decided to sit down, do some research on my favourite recipes and venture out to get all the ingredients I needed. If you live in Toronto, you are in luck because most of these ingredients can be found at big chain grocery stores and the ones that are harder to come by can be found at the smaller specialty spice stores in the city.
This recipe is from Dassana's Veg Recipes with the slightest modifications. She is a fantastic food blogger with tons and tons of Indian recipes, so you should check out her blog for more inspiration. With Indian cooking, like many other cuisines, two chefs can make the same recipe very differently and can tweak the recipe to their own taste. I love my dishes thicker and less liquidy or soupy, so I tend to reduce more or use less water, but that is the beauty of a dish like this. Keep the main key spices listed here the same. Try your best not to substitute and you will have a delicious tasting home-cooked Indian classic.
Palak Paneer 18 Steps
Rinse spinach (palak) and discard hard stringy stems (I used washed spinach that was bought in a bag and kept the stems).
Boil 3 cups of water and add a pinch of salt to the water. Add in your spinach to the boiling water for 1 minute. Before doing this, make sure you have prepared an ice bath.
This ice bath step is to preserve the colour of the spinach, after blanching spinach for 1 minute, add spinach to ice bath. Leave spinach in ice bath for 1 minute and drain.
In a blender add the spinach, ginger, garlic and green chilies.
Blend until smooth and set aside. You don't need to add water to the puree.
In a pan, heat your ghee, oil or butter and add cumin seeds and let toast for 1 minute, stirring.
Add your bay leaf and stir for about 30 seconds then add finely chopped onions. Keep stirring onions until they are golden (about 5 minutes).
Add the minced garlic. Continue to stir but don't let garlic brown.
Add the chopped tomatoes and stir until they are soft, roughly 5-10 minutes depending on pan and heat.
Finally add your spices to the tomato mixture. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and asafoetida/hing.
Mix well and keep sautéing until the oil starts to visibly separate from tomato spice mixture (5-10 minutes).
Add the spinach palak puree and mix well and add about 1/2 cup of water.
Simmer for 6 to 7 minutes or more until the spinach is cooked and add salt to taste.
Stir and add garam masala powder.
Stir again and then add the paneer cubes.
Mix very well and switch off the heat.
Lastly, add 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream and stir to incorporate into gravy.
Pour the palak paneer in serving bowls, garnish with cream and serve with some roti, naan or other Indian bread or with rice.