Palak paneer is spiced creamed spinach and Indian cheese. It's definitely a favorite at North Indian restaurants. I like making it at home though because it's so easy and it's a lot cheaper since you'll be able to stretch it out for a few meals.
There are a number of ways to make this dish and this version is kind of the quick and dirty. If you have fresh spinach leaves, you can also grind them in the blender before you throw them in to the pot for cooking.
Making this palak paneer was special though because the paneer was homemade:) It goes best with Indian roti or rice.
I remember sharing this meal with Alana - definitely a highlight of the weekend since the night before we had ended up attending a gallery event with some of the whackest performance art I have ever seen. Thanks for taking us Sumanth!
16 ounce package frozen chopped spinach or 16 ounces fresh spinach blended with a little water
8 ounces cubed paneer, packaged or homemade
3 tablespoons ghee or oil
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 large onion chopped
1 tablespoon ginger grated (1 inch piece)
3 cloves garlic cloves crushed
3 plum tomatoes chopped
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1/3 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder - or to taste
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream - or to taste (you can also substitute with sour cream)
salt to taste
cilantro for garnishing
Thaw out spinach in microwave or on stovetop with 1/2 cup water and then drain. You can blend the spinach at this time for a few seconds - texture should be smooth and not pastey. (I skipped this step)
You can either fry your paneer or use it fresh (I did not fry mine, but it does taste good fried too). For frying, use 1 tablespoon of oil in a non stick pan under medium heat. Once the oil is hot, place paneer into oil. Gently turn the paneers until all sides are golden brown. Set paneer aside.
Heat ghee or oil under medium high heat. When hot, put in asafoetida and cumin seed. Shake the pan a bit so they mingle. Once the cumin seed gets brown and fragrant (~30 seconds), throw in the onions and mix.
Cook onions until translucent. You can cook them further until they are kind of carmelized as well - if you have more time.
Throw in garlic and ginger. Stir and cook for a minute. Next throw in tomatoes.
Once the oil starts to separate from the tomatoes, mix in the spices - garam masala, coriander powder, turmeric, chili powder.
Cook the tomatoes for about 15-20 minutes under medium heat. Next, mix in the spinach. Cook for 10 minutes or until you have reached the right consistency. Then add cream and cook for 2 minutes. Next add in paneer.
I throw the paneer in and then spoon spinach on top so that they warm up faster. I try not to stir it so much because the paneers break really easily especially if you have not fried them.
Cook until paneers are warmed through. Garnish with cilantro and serve with roti or rice.