Simple Palak Paneer Recipe

Indian food has a semi-well deserved reputation for being on the pricey side when you order from a restaurant, but that price is justified: it takes a lot of ingredients and, in most cases, a lot of effort to prepare many Indian dishes. In fact, according to the site Master Indian Spice, there some 40 spices found in regular use across various regions of India, with two dozen spices used in just about every variety of food from the nation. So the fact that this quick and easy take on a true classic of Indian cuisine uses just four spices (well, six if we count ginger and garlic in there) will be a relief to home chefs long intimidated by Indian food.

Chef, recipe developer, and registered dietician Kristen Carli says of this easy palak paneer: "This one is so good –  a good family favorite [that's] pretty easy without a lot of mistakes to watch out for." As long as you measure your ingredients carefully and watch the timing on the cooking, your homemade palak paneer will come out tasting great. 

"This dish is complete on its own but if you want to add protein, I would suggest adding chicken or tofu," Carli says. One more thought? Add more of all the ingredients and make a bigger batch, because people are going to ask for seconds.

Gather the ingredients

Palak paneer is one of those dishes that truly demonstrates that cooking is just as much about how you use ingredients as it is about which ingredients you use. There's nothing unusual or surprising here, but rather a perfect combination of many things you surely use regularly. Well, okay ... maybe one ingredient out of the norm for most people — can you guess which one?

All told, the recipe calls for spinach, olive oil, minced garlic, crushed ginger, diced yellow onion, chili powder, ground coriander, ground turmeric, ground cumin, some water, and cubed paneer (yep, this Indian cheese is the only little surprise), as well as unsweetened plain Greek yogurt, naan, white rice, and chopped cilantro, for serving.

Cook and blend the spinach

Spinach is the heart and soul of this recipe. Sure, the spices and other veggies and all dress it up nicely, but it's this rich, deep green powerhouse veggie that is the main event. Carli says of palak paneer: "This is a great vegetarian dish with a ton of spinach [that's] perfect for those that are trying to work on their greens intake."

So no surprise that it all starts with the leafy greens.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the spinach and let it cook for 1 minute. Then remove the spinach from pot (or pour it out through a strainer) and add the cooked greens to a high speed blender. Blend until you create a nice, smooth, green mixture, and then set it aside.

Cook the other veggies and add the spices

Next, take out a decently large pot (or a stove-safe Dutch oven) on a burner over medium heat and add the olive oil. As soon as the oil has warmed a bit, add the garlic, ginger, and onion and stir to mix them all. Allow these to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, which will take about 5 minutes.

Now add the chili powder, coriander, turmeric, and cumin. Stir to combine everything well, then add the pureed spinach to the pot, stir, and let everything cook in there for another 5 minutes.

Add water, cook, add paneer, keep cooking, and then serve

Once you have let the pot cook for 5 minutes with the added spinach puree, go ahead and add a cup of water. Stir everything well, and then cook over medium-low heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When 10 minutes have passed, add the cubed paneer to the pot and keep the heat at low for about 10 minutes, letting everything heat through evenly. Now serve your palak paneer over a bed of cooked white rice (or jasmine rice) with naan on the side and a bowl of yogurt for dipping (or add a dollop on top of your palak paneer). Finally, sprinkle on some freshly chopped cilantro for added looks and taste.

Simple Palak Paneer Recipe
5 from 29 ratings
Think you can only eat Indian food if you order take-out? Think again -- this palak paneer is so simple you'll want to add it to your regular weekly meal plan.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
35
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
simple palak paneer served in a bowl
Total time: 40 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
  • ½ yellow onion
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup water
  • 14 ounces paneer, cubed (about 2 cups)
  • white rice, for serving
  • unsweetened plain Greek yogurt, for serving
  • naan, for serving
  • fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving
Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the spinach, and boil it for 1 minute.
  2. Remove the spinach from the pot and add it to a high speed blender, blending until smooth. Then set it aside.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, and then add the garlic, ginger, and onion and allow to cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chili powder, coriander, turmeric, and cumin, and stir to combine.
  5. Add the pureed spinach to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Then add 1 cup water, stir, and cook on medium-low for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cubed paneer to the pot and heat through on low for about 10 minutes.
  7. Serve over rice with naan. Top with Greek yogurt and garnish with cilantro.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 289
Total Fat 12.3 g
Saturated Fat 4.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 23.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 25.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g
Total Sugars 6.3 g
Sodium 622.3 mg
Protein 19.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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