Palak Paneer Recipe (Spinach Curry with Cheese) & Cooking in an Indian Kitchen

An easy palak paneer recipe that guarantees the best flavor – creamy, nutty and fragrant spinach gravy served with tender paneer. Palak paneer is one of the most popular saag paneer dishes –  you really have to give it a try! {Gluten-Free, Vegetarian}

Palak Paneer Recipe (Spinach Curry with Cheese) with tips on homemade paneer | Gluten-Free | Vegetarian | Low Carb | Indian Food | Indian Recipes

For my first trip to India, I visited Bangalore to meet my friend Richa, the super talented lady behind My Food Story – this is the magic of how blogging connects people together!

First, I messaged her that I was planning to travel to Delhi.

Then she suggested, why not travel to Bangalore and stay with us?

And I said yes! without hesitating.

Richa and I got to know each other over the internet through our blogs, but we never met in person or even chatted on the phone. Nonetheless, I feel like I’ve got to know a lot about her – she’s so hardworking and shares my deep passion for food; the type of artist I genuinely wanted to connect with.

So I made the trip to Bangalore and spent 4 days at Richa’s place. Turned out it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made… we had so much fun cooking together, hanging out in the bar, chatting and visiting a sari shop!

Photo of Maggie and Richa

Cooking in an Indian Kitchen

We decided to cook up a feast together. Richa taught me a few Indian dishes and I taught her how to make Chinese food.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: I had Palak Paneer in New Delhi and really enjoyed it.

Richa: Cool, it’s so easy to make. Let’s do it!

Me: The paneer was super creamy and tender, some of the best I’ve ever had…

Richa: Oh, it only takes five minute to make! Let’s make the paneer too.

Me (with shock written on my face): Wow, that’s awesome! Let’s get some butter naan to go with the dish.

Richa: We can make that too, the fresher the better. It takes no time if you use my quick naan recipe. As for Chinese food, I really want to learn how to fold dumplings… it looks so complicated!

Me: Oh that is the easiest thing ever, I’ll teach you.

Richa [looking suspicious]: …

Apparently we both thought the dishes from each other’s culture were a hundred times more difficult to make than they actually are!

So here is our final menu:

Palak Paneer Recipe (Spinach Curry with Cheese) with tips on homemade paneer | Gluten-Free | Vegetarian | Low Carb | Indian Food | Indian Recipes

I wasn’t sure if we could finish making all the dishes because it would involve quite a lot of cooking… but when Richa started working, all of my worries disappeared and I was sure the lunch would be finished on time and taste awesome.

Chopping juicy red tomatoes; sautéeing garlic and green onion with cumin, chili powder, and many pungent spices; blending spinach until it forms a beautiful green paste; whisking flour and water by hand to start the dough; straining the creamy cheese. Everything looked effortless, like a dancer who has all the movements imprinted in her muscle memory and performs them flowingly.

Famous food photographer and stylist Bea Lubas had previously described to me what walking down the street in India is like – “it opens all your sensations.”

This was such an accurate description of our kitchen: fresh produce with beautiful colors, aromatic scents rising from the pot, the sizzling of the pan with uplifting music in the background, and the surprisingly delightful taste when I finally tried the freshly-made, still-warm paneer.

I loved every minute of it.

Palak Paneer (Spinach Curry with Cheese) Cooking ProcessPalak Paneer Recipe (Spinach Curry with Cheese) with tips on homemade paneer | Gluten-Free | Vegetarian | Low Carb | Indian Food | Indian Recipes

How to Cook Palak Paneer

As I discovered, the process is easier than you thought. The steps are:

(1) Blending the raw spinach, chili pepper, and garlic. Unlike other recipes that call for cooking the spinach first, Richa told me that you can skip that step and the dish will still turn out amazing.

(2) Sautéeing aromatics in olive oil, and adding plenty of tomato. We used a bit more tomato in the recipe, because it adds a nice zing to the gravy.

(3) Adding spices one by one, and slowly roasting them with the tomato. The combination of these spices are what we usually call “curry powder”. Richa pointed out, there is no such thing as curry powder per se in India – it is an array of spices (see the picture below) that you use in different ratios depending on the dish.

(4) Adding the blended spinach and letting it simmer until it’s cooked through; then folding in cream.

(5) (Optional) Browning some butter with garlic and pouring it on the finished gravy.

(6) Adding the freshly made paneer when you are ready to serve.

That’s it! The ingredient list might look a bit long, but that’s because the gravy needs to be cooked properly to guarantee the best flavor. The whole cooking process is very easy and straightforward.

Palak Paneer (Spinach Curry with Cheese) Cooking Process

Here is the final dish – a hearty and colorful gravy that is bursting with umami, topped with creamy cheese. We used Richa’s secret recipe trick of folding cream into the milk, so the finished paneer is extra silky and tender. Serve it with fresh-off-the stove hot butter naan, and you’ll be in awe of how great this vegetarian dish tastes!

Palak Paneer (Spinach Curry with Cheese) Cooking Process

Common questions

How do I keep the palak paneer green in color?

  • Add less tomato
  • Keep an close eye on the gravy while simmering after you add the blanched spinach. Taste the gravy once the color starts changing, and turn off the heat immediately when the spinach is cooked and no longer tastes bitter.

Just as a little background info: some restaurant palak paneers that are a super bright color might contain food coloring. The homemade version will be a bit darker in color, because you want to simmer the gravy longer to let the spices blend well and ensure the spinach is thoroughly cooked.

How to make paneer at home?

  • Boil the milk until hot
  • Add an acid – it can be lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar
  • Keep cooking until the milk splits/curdles. Immediately remove the pan from the stove
  • Strain the milk with cheese cloth
  • The paneer is ready to serve! Alternatively, you can place it into a container with weight on top to shape it.

For detailed instructions, see the recipe here.

Palak Paneer (Spinach Curry with Cheese) Cooking ProcessHow to cook paneer properly?

Always add the paneer at the end to prevent overcooking, so the cheese won’t become rubbery and chewy in texture.

Palak Paneer Recipe (Spinach Curry with Cheese) with tips on homemade paneer | Gluten-Free | Vegetarian | Low Carb | Indian Food | Indian Recipes

Related recipes:

Here are some other recipes that you might be interested in. You can make naan, roti, chapati, or steamed rice to serve with the palak paneer; I also included an easy recipe showing how to make it super creamy. I hope you enjoy!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Palak Paneer Recipe (Spinach Curry with Cheese) & Cooking in an Indian Kitchen
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This recipe is quoted from the Easy Palak Paneer by My Food Story with small modifications in wording.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 5 cups baby spinach
  • 1-2 Thai chillies or jalapenos
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 large piece ginger
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 1-inch / 2.5-cm)
  • 1 piece bay leave
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam masala powder
  • (Optional) 2 tablespoons kasuri methi
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (or coconut cream for a vegetarian option)
  • 200-grams (7 ounces) paneer, diced (about a cup)
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine spinach, chillies, ginger, garlic and cashew nuts in a blender. Add 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth. If the spinach doesn’t fit in your blender, add half or a third of the spinach first and blend until smooth; then add the rest spinach and blend.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a medium-size pot until warm. Add cinnamon, bay leaf and cardamom pods. Stir and cook for about a minute. Add minced garlic and onions. Cook and stir until the onions turn translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, coriander powder and salt. Stir to mix well, cover and cook until the tomatoes soften, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Pour in the blended spinach mixture and add kasuri methi (if using). Stir to mix well. Cook over until boiling. Turn to medium-low heat, cover, simmer for 8-10 minutes. The gravy should turn brownish-green and cooked through, without a bitter taste.
  4. Check for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the cream and add paneer to the gravy. Mix gently without breaking the paneer.
  5. Serve hot with chapatis, naan, or steamed rice.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 bowl Calories: 123cal Fat: 9.7g Carbohydrates: 6.3g Sugar: 1g Sodium: 130.3mg Protein: 4.2g Cholesterol: 8.9mg

 

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8 thoughts on “Palak Paneer Recipe (Spinach Curry with Cheese) & Cooking in an Indian Kitchen

  1. Richa

    Love love love how you’ve captured our cookoff in these pictures! They look lovely and I had soooo much fun doing this. Can’t wait for our US trip to happen now!

    Reply
  2. Milena | Craft Beering

    What a feast you two had! Love Palak Paneer, even though I have never made it, only order it at Indian restaurants. Sure know what beer to recommend to pair it with:)
    PS. That sari you picked looks great!

    Reply
    1. Maggie

      Thank you Milena! You should totally try to make this one at home. We used to order it too, until I made them once I realized how easy it was!

      Reply
    1. Maggie

      You should! It is surprisingly easy to make, once you try it. If you have extra time, definitely make the paneer too. It takes like 15 minutes, but the result is so rewarding 🙂

      Reply
  3. Kelly

    This looks incredible! I’m obsessed with palak paneer and love that you made the paneer fresh at home. I’ve never used cashews in my own recipe but will definitely have to try. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  4. Wei @ Red House Spice

    What a lovely story! Blogging isn’t just about cooking but other inspirations in life. I always love Indian cuisine but never had this dish before. Your post really makes it appealing. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply