I’ve been wanting to give you guys this recipe for a very long time, but every time I make it I’m in a rush and it’s usually dark and so I never get to photograph it. But I had a little time to myself this weekend while Clint took Luna out and instead of sleeping (which is what I should have done), I finally got to photograph it.
It is one of my favourite (Northern) Indian dishes and I’m so excited to share it with you. Now I wish I could make it as good as the traditional dishes I’ve had, but I would be lying if I said I could. I have been working on this dish for a very long time and I love it – but I swear there’s a secret ingredient I can’t figure out. Nonetheless, this is my take on Palak Paneer and I think you guys will really enjoy it.
It is basically paneer (Indian cheese) in an aromatic, warming pureed spinach gravy; and it is mouth-watering.
Yield – 6 to 8 servings
- 2 cups paneer, cut into half-inch cubes (one 454g block is fine)
- 24 oz. spinach
- 8 oz. collard greens*
- 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 average yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 small ripe tomato (diced)
- 2, one inch chunks of ginger
- 6 garlic cloves, finely diced (except 2)
- 1 small green chili (Serrano) – seeds removed*
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt – or heavy cream
- Juice of one fresh lemon
- 2 tsp of crushed fenugreek leaves*
- Salt to taste
*Special Note: I add collard greens to mine, but you can do all spinach, you can substitute mustard greens or even arugula. The green chili I put as optional, if you don’t like a ton of spice, just leave it out – it’s still fantastic. I you can’t find fenugreek leaves you can add a 1 tsp of maple syrup and a pinch of mustard powder or worst case scenario a tsp of maple syrup and a pinch of lemon zest.
- First step is to blanch the spinach and collard green leaves by putting them in salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes. You don’t want to leave them in too long as you want the leaves to retain the beautiful bright green. Take them out and dunk them in cold water bath for a minute and strain. Then, puree the spinach and collards in a blender along with the tomato, 2 cloves of garlic, the chunks of ginger and the green chili. Set aside.
- Remove the paneer from the package and pat with paper towel until dry. Cut into half-inch cubes. Add 1 tbsp. of ghee to a hot large heavy bottom pan and add paneer. Let fry until crisp and golden brown, then flip and do the same to the other side. Remove from the pan and let cool.
- Turn the heat down if necessary to medium and add one more tbsp of ghee on medium heat. Once the ghee has melted down, add the remaining garlic cloves (finely chopped) and saute for few minutes until it starts turning golden brown in color (but not burnt), then add the onions and stir until soft and translucent.
- Add in the spinach puree and stir thoroughly. Then add water, start by adding 1/4 cup of water at a time to get the desired thickness. If you want it to be thinner, you will probably end up using a full cup, if you want it a little thicker you may not need it.
- Cover and let sit for 3-5 min, stirring frequently.
- Once the spinach is cooked (only takes a few minutes), add garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric powder, chili powder and cinnamon. Mix together and cook for 1-2 minutes. At this point taste and add salt to taste.
- Add the yogurt or cream (you can use either one, traditionally it is heavy cream, but I prefer greek yogurt) and paneer and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add fresh lemon juice, and fenugreek leaves* (maple syrup & Mustard powder or lemon zest as above), and mix together.
- Serve over rice with naan bread.
I hope you enjoy my version of palak paneer. This is a great dish to make extra of and freeze, because it actually holds up really well. It is perfect for fall and winter, but don’t discount this baby on warm days, it is surprisingly vibrant thanks to all those lovely aromatic spices.
Till the next recipe,