The Palak Paneer Recipe You Should Cook Tonight

Palak paneer is power food. With a spinach and tomato base, and range of spices, you're getting all sorts of nourishing goodness in each bite. And the homemade paneer!

The Palak Paneer Recipe You Should Cook Tonight
Palak paneer is power food. When translated literally it means spinach (palak) and cheese (paneer) - the two primary components. But there is a lot more to celebrate here. It's the kind of dish that when prepared with care and good ingredients, can shift perspectives. It's delicious, dynamic food to feed and power your body. The opposite of simply eating to fill up. With a spinach and tomato base, and range of spices, you're getting all sorts of nourishing goodness in each bite. The Palak Paneer Recipe You Should Cook Tonight This version of palak paneer is inspired and adapted from one of my favorite new cookbooks Studio Olafur Eliasson: The Kitchen. I made some tweaks based on the spices I had on hand, and it's a great recipe to tackle on a weekend afternoon. It's also a recipe to consider doubling. Leftovers are great throughout the week, and fresh, homemade paneer never goes unappreciated. The Palak Paneer Recipe You Should Cook Tonight Palak Paneer is filling, nutritious, adaptable, and nourishing, and the kind of food we should all be eating more of. I've made this version a few times since picking up the book in New York. Serve the palak paneer with brown basmati rice, or the paratha from the India chapter in Near & Far. Enjoy!
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Palak Paneer

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4.8 from 5 votes

One note - a couple of you have had trouble getting the milk to curdle when making fresh paneer. It's an issue I've never run into in the many times I've made paneer (or ricotta) over the years. I suspect it might have something to do with some dairy being ultra-pasteurized, so please avoid that if possible, and you should be fine.

Ingredients
  • 1 quart whole full-fat milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound spinach, rinsed
  • 3 + tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 thumb peeled ginger, grated
  • scant 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoons garam masala
  • To serve: basmati rice or paratha bread, toasted cashews, and/or micro greens
Instructions
  1. Pour the milk into a large pot, and place over medium heat. Bring barely to a simmer and add the lemon juice, stir well, and continue to heat. The milk should begin to curdle, and if it doesn't, add more lemon juice a splash at a time. Drain using a fine strainer, or cheese cloth, press out as much moisture as possible, and allow to cool.
  2. Place another pot of water over high heat, and bring to a boil. Salt well and add the spinach to the boiling water, and blanch for just a flash, 15-20 seconds. Drain, run under cool water - it should be bright green. Use a blender or food processor to puree, and set aside.
  3. In the meantime, cut the paneer into small pieces, and, in a frying pan over medium heat, fry the cheese in a generous splash of ghee or clarified butter until golden brown. Set aside.
  4. Heat the remaining ghee in a heavy-bottomed pot, and gently sauté the onions until golden. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they pop. Dial back the heat a bit, and add the garlic, ginger, chile flakes, cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric, and salt. Fry until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10-20 minutes. Add the garam masala and spinach and cook for another ten minutes. Serve topped with the paneer, some cashews, and micro greens with some rice or paratha on the side.
Notes

Serves 6.

Adapted from the the Palak Paneer recipe in Studio Olafur Eliasson: The Kitchen.

Serves
6
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 
 
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Comments

I absolutely love palak paneer! T'was one of my favourite dishes when I was working in a Bombay Street Kitchen in town :) That was even before I became a vegetarian :) Your recipe here looks lovely, nice twist! x

Jules @ WolfItDown

This looks exactly like the kind of food I crave after a long day at work. Probably goes really well with naan. Looks like making paneer is very similar to making ricotta. Is there a major difference there?

Alexandra

Kathy, I really think you could just make it without the tomatoes and see what happens. You might want to add some lemon or lime for some acidity, and possibly something for a slight sweetness. It will taste different, but bet it'll still be good. I've had palak paneer before where the tomato component has been minimal.

Helen

I tried making the Paneer last night. The milk did not curdle to make the cheese at all. very very disappointing. I used fresh lemon juice and had to keep adding and adding and then thought why not some vinegar and added that and then i thought maybe i should boil the milk, and did that and then i let it sit and it did nothing. i was sad to throw out a whole quart of good milk and so i did not make the rest of the recipe. can you please explain why this paneer did not make it!!! your instructions are vague about the heating and the acid and the length of time and etc etc. thanks.

HS: Hi Resa! I'm so sorry to hear that - I'm re-reading the instructions, and it's the general process I've used many times. The one thing I'm noticing is the original recipe didn't note to use full fat milk. Or, at least that's what I always use. Updating the notes now....It should work! Hoping that I'm not missing something else, I've done it three times in the past week-ish, same process....Hope you give it another try.

resa

Hi Kathy, Regarding the tomatoes you can just use water. When I make Indian food, the base is the onions. The longer you sweat these, the sweeter they are as they begin to carmelise. You then add dried spices and salt and cook for a minute or 2 (like a roux) and then add your veg/meat/fish/paneer/beans etc. and cook for a few mins and then the liquid - tomatoes, water, coconut milk, tamarind water etc. Obviously the taste won't be the same but I just exchange out ingredients as needed and change around the spices. The best explanation I saw of this was chef Rick Stein when he visited India. http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/programmes/b033rhzh His cookbook is also quite good.

Anna

Yes to everything you say about this dish! This is going on my list to make soon. Heidi, do you ever add salt to your paneer? I usually find my homemade version lacking a bit in flavor (as in it tastes flat) compared store-bought.

HS: Hi Katie - I sometimes season just after I've strained, but when the curds a quite loose...it depends on what I plan on doing with it. I tend to season differently depending on whether it will be a sweet or savoy use.

Do you think you could sub out the cow milk for coconut or almond milk?

HS: Hi Liz - I think the best non-dairy option is doing to be crumbled tofu.

Liz

Did you know you could use the whey from your paneer to bind the dough for paratha? I always do that when I make paneer. Either parathas, roti or puri.

HS: Yes! I do that on occasion, use the whey in lemonade, as part of the soaking liquid w/ dried beans, etc. It's the good stuff!

Hi Heidi! This looks delicious - I can't remember what paneer taste/texture is like, could you imagine a tofu/tempeh/cashew cheese version of this? xx

HS: Hi! Yes! It would be a fantastic alternative :)

Hannah-Phoebe

I've never seen dreamier palak paneer! The microgreens make a wonderful garnish and fried cashews add a nice rich note.

Richa

this is amazing! it's great to know that i can make these mysteriously delicious indian/pakistani recipes on my own! question: i always thought Saag Paneer was the spinach and paneer dish. what is the difference between Palak and saag? thanks

johanna

Kathy - when I make palek paneer, I only put in 1-2 fist sized tomatoes. I think it would be fine to try adding maybe a carrot or two (not too much or it'll be too sweet) and just scaling back the spices for less volume.

Laura

Did you know you could use the whey from your paneer to bind the dough for paratha? I always do that when I make paneer. Either parathas, roti or puri.

HS: Yes! It's a great idea. I also save it to add a bit to the soaking water for beans, and to add to dressings, and all sorts of other stuff.

This looks so delicious! It's funny, just yesterday I was looking up how to make my own paneer and ordered a nut milk bag today on Amazon. I'm excited to try this recipe :)

HS: Hi Amber - this recipes makes roughly 2 cups of paneer? Something like that.

Amber

This looks amazing. I have a tomato sensitivity though, so there probably isn't a good substitution available is there? Maybe roasted/blended carrots?

HS: Hmmm...it is a substantial part of the base...not sure I have a great suggestion for you :/

Kathy

Hi Heidi, love the look of this recipe and will definitely try it very soon. What can I use instead of the black mustard seeds? Thanks.

HS: Hi Roberta - Just skip them if you like. Generally speaking, you can tweak the spices to your liking over time.

This looks so good. Simple, beautiful and delicious :)

Shaleen Mohan

My editor told me about that book and made me pretty curious ^_^ Anyway, I love palak paneer - even if I make it with tofu and I call it palak tofu :) But I think your micro greens and cashew topping! is just amazing!

had no idea that paneer was so easy to make! and i love that it sounds flavorful, but isn't intimidating with a laundry list of ingredients and unheard of spices.

This is just what I need. I sorely miss ethnic food in my beautiful little corner of rural France, where my restaurant choices are French, French or pizza. Making paneer from scratch is brilliant! Thank you!

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