I am a Muslim Indian(proud Gujarati 🤪)who choose to wear the hijab(headscarf). So, when I came to the US and started interacting with the people of the community at work, school, public places, or grocery stores (yes, I talk to cashiers and employees about food lol), the majority of times their response is ‘oh I thought India is Hindu’. Then I start my conversation by explaining the population of Muslims in India, our culture, and somehow we slowly end up talking about food and more food lol. They might not know much about India’s religious diversity, our different cultures, and clothing but they definitely know what ‘Palak Paneer or Saag Paneer’ is.
The conversation that starts about food always ends on a good note. Though we might have different skin colors, shapes, attire, cultures, and languages, we all somehow connect through food. Your Cottage Cheese is my Paneer and your Samboosa is my Samosa. Your Baryani is my Biryani and your Burger is my Aloo Tikki. Your Bacon is my Turkey Bacon. Ugh! Now I am craving a good turkey BLT🤫😜.
Anyway, let’s talk a little bit more about Palak Paneer. Palak translates to Spinach and Paneer is a firm cottage cheese made of full-fat cow or buffalo milk. Invented, widely cooked, and served in North India and adopted by other regions of India.
Luscious green spinach curry with slightly sour and creamy paneer cooked in Indian spices is crazy delicious with a warm garlic Naan or Roti. I mean, when do get to eat a vegetarian dish this simple yet full of goodness and flavors, you won’t miss meat on that day.
Enough of storytelling. Let’s just jump to the delicious Palak Paneer recipe.
Vegan option- Instead of heavy cream, add 5 to 7 cashew nuts while sauteing onions. You may add cashew cream or milk if you like. Firm tofu is a great option to substitute for Paneer.
- 1 Ibs baby spinach
- 1 paneer, cut into small pieces (Use extra firm Tofu for a vegan option)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 medium tomato, Chopped
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin-coriander powder
- 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 3 tbsp olive oil or ghee or butter
- Salt to taste
- 1 green chili or jalapeno, optional but highly recommended
- a handful of cilantro
- 1 tbsp Kasoori Methi(Dried Fenugreek)
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- A small stick of cinnamon
- 5 black peppercorns
- 2 to 3 cloves
- 2 green cardamom pods
- Grind all of the whole spices in a spice grinder.
- Blanch the spinach and the green chili in the boiling water for about 2 minutes.
- In a separate pan, heat 2 tbsp oil on medium heat and add cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to change color or pop, add onions. Cook it until the onions are translucent or soft.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste, chopped tomatoes, turmeric, salt, cumin-coriander powder, whole ground spices, and chili powder. Mix it well and let it cook until tomatoes soften and the oil starts to separate.
- Take it off of the stovetop and let the mixture cool down.
- In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tsp oil. You may add more oil if you like. Cook paneer cubes evenly on low medium heat until golden and set them aside.
- In a food processor, take blanched spinach, tomato-onion mixture, cilantro, and dried fenugreek. Blend it until a smooth consistency.
- In a large pan, add spinach mixture, paneer, and heavy cream. Cook it on low heat until warm or approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add a dollop of butter or ghee on top if you like.
- Serve it hot with Roti, Naan, Mutter Pulao, or plain rice.
Tip- never blanch spinach for anything more than 2 minutes. Over blanching or cooking can ruin the flavors, color, and good nutrients of spinach.
Leave me a comment if you have any questions. Hope you like this as much as I do. Thank you for stopping by!