Learn how to make quick and simple Palak Paneer Curry ~ Indian cottage cheese in mildly spiced rich and creamy spinach gravy
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. A pearl of wisdom by my grandmother who not only lived a simple life, but also beautifully incorporated the art of simplicity in her cooking as well. With so many produce; fresh, exotic and vibrant, available with a click of a button, we sometimes forget how a simple food can really be uplifting and soul satisfying. After all, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, isn’t it?
Ingredients for Palak Paneer Curry
As I am recovering from a nasty flu, hubby took over the kitchen and cooked simple meals for days which nourished my aching body and comforted my troubled spirit. His cooking is very much like the person he is; simple, straight forward and down to earth with a touch of humour and little madness to make it anything but boring. It is during this time I realised how my cooking has evolved over the time and how complicated it has become by adding one too many ingredients. Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex but it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. Simple ingredients prepared in a simple way is the best way to take your everyday cooking to a higher level.
Today when I stepped into the kitchen, I wanted to cook something under 20 minutes, with just a handful of ingredients and yet, the final dish to taste like I have slaved in front of hob for hours to bring that complex and exotic flavour. The result is this quick and simple Palak Paneer Curry made using just 10 ingredients which also includes the very essential oil and salt! Crumbly Indian cottage cheese cooked in a velvety smooth spinach gravy brimming with nutrients and bursting with flavour is my recipe that redefines my love for the art of simple cooking…
Paneer is a versatile and a very popular ingredient used mainly as a star ingredient for many North Indian curries. With its fairly mild, milky flavour and dense crumbly texture which doesn’t melt like other cheese, its best when paired with strong and spicy flavours like in classic Indian curries like this Shahi Paneer Curry, Paneer Tikka Masala, Paneer Kofta, Palak Paneer etc to name few. Here in this recipe of Palak Paneer, fresh paneer is simmered in a creamy gravy of spinach, onion and garlic flavoured with green chilli and a generous pinch of garam masala. The addition of milk and cashew nuts in the gravy gives it a luxurious velvety texture. This absolutely delicious curry doesn't take more than 20-25 minutes to cook from scratch. Creamy, rich and luxurious this Palak Paneer Curry is a perfect way to end your day with some flaky parathas or some tandoori naans. I promise you that a whiff of fragrant spices, a lick of this creamy goodness is one meal you will remember for a very long time…
Palak Paneer (Indian cottage cheese served in a mildly spiced creamy spinach gravy)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Low to Medium
Serves: 5-6 people
Shelf Life: Best served fresh but can be refrigerated for 2-3 days
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian flat breads like roti or naan or with flavoured Basmati Rice
300 gms or about 5-6 packed cups Spinach (I have used baby spinach leaves)
200 gms or about 3 cups Paneer/Indian Cottage Cheese, cut into ¾ inch cubes
2-4 Green Chillies, slit (Adjust as per taste)
6-7 large cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 inch Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 medium Onions, peeled and thinly sliced
10 whole Cashew Nuts
½ tsp Garam Masala (Adjust as per taste)
1 tsp Sugar (Optional)
¾ - 1 cup Milk
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp. Oil
- Place the spinach in a large bowl and fill it with water. Leave it aside for 2-3 minutes. All the dirt and sand will settle on the bottom of the bowl. Remove the spinach and place it in a colander and wash it under the running water to make sure it’s clean. If using spinach bunch, I prefer to wash individual leaves before chopping them to make sure that any dirt or sand stuck to the leaves and stems are removed. Set it aside until needed.
- Remove the peels of onion, ginger and garlic and finely chop them. Remove the stems of green chillies and slit them in the centre. If you like, you can remove the seeds of the green chillies if you prefer mild curries.
- Cut the paneer into ¾ inch squares and keep it aside until needed. If using store brought paneer, you can place in a bowl of hot water for a soft paneer. I have added the fresh paneer directly to the gravy, but if you prefer, you can pan fry the paneer cubes on both sides with little oil or ghee until they turn golden brown.
Proceed to cook:
- Heat oil in a pan on medium flame and add cumin seeds to it. When the cumin starts to sizzle and change colour to deeper shade, about 30-45 seconds, add chopped garlic and slit green chillies. Sauté for a minute until the edges of garlic slices turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Add finely chopped ginger and fry for minute on medium heat.
- Next add the chopped onions, cashew nuts, sugar and a pinch of salt. The sugar helps in caramelising the onions and the salt helps in cooking the onions quicker. Sauté the onions for at least 5 minutes until the edges turn light brown and is lightly caramelised. This is an important step, and try not to rush to cook the onions.
- Finally add the spinach and mix them all well. Let the spinach cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat until it welts.
- Transfer the cooked ingredients into a food processor and grind them to smooth puree by adding ½ to 1 cup of water. Make sure you scrape the ingredients stuck to the sides to get a smooth puree.
- Transfer the ground paste into a pan along with salt to taste and heat it on a medium flame. Add ½ - 1 cup of milk or water to get desired consistency. I prefer using whole milk to the gravy to get velvety smooth, creamy gravy. Take care as the hot gravy will spit and splutter as it comes to a boil and hence, cover the pan with lid to avoid hot gravy splattering all around. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium flame.
- Add the cubes paneer pieces and garam masala and mix them all well. Cover and let it simmer for another 2-3 before turning off the flame.
- Let the Palak Paneer Curry rest covered for at least 10 minutes for all the flavours blend well before serving it hot with any Indian flat breads or flavoured Basmati rice. Enjoy!
- I have used the fresh paneer directly to the gravy, but if you prefer, you can pan fry the paneer cubes on both sides with little oil or ghee until they turn golden brown.
- Sauté the onions for at least 5 minutes until the edges turn light brown and is lightly caramelised. This is an important step, and try not to rush to cook the onions.
- I prefer using whole milk to the gravy to get velvety smooth, creamy gravy. You can skip adding milk and use any vegan milk or nut milk or water.
- You can replace Paneer with firm Tofu for vegan meal.
- Check my another recipe of Palak Paneer on the blog which is one of the most popular recipes on the blog.