Palak Paneer is a popular North Indian Punjabi curry made by cooking soft paneer (Indian cottage cheese), in a healthy and tasty spinach based gravy. The pureed spinach provides a creamy base for this flavorful curry, which is cooked with fresh onions, ginger garlic, tomato and seasoned with garam masala, coriander and cumin. It is rich in flavor and is a staple in all Indian restaurants. This is my mom’s famous recipe — which means it’s wicked good! Another quick ‘n’ easy 30-minute meal from my family to yours!
Variations: Palak / Spinach Tofu (Vegan) or Chicken
You can make this recipe Vegan by swapping out the paneer with Extra-Firm Tofu.
Alternatively, you can switch out the paneer and add chicken instead, and make Palak Chicken. If using chicken, use boneless skinless breast or thighs, cut in 1 inch pieces and add it to the pot in step 1, before closing the lid. When done, wait for 5 minutes and release the pressure. Remove chicken pieces after pressure cooking and then add the spinach. Continue with the rest of the instructions. Add the chicken back after pureeing the spinach curry.
I made this recipe in my Instant Pot 6 Qt, but it can be made on a stove-top too. Check out “Stove-top” instructions below.
- Heat a deep sauce pan on medium high heat. Since spinach puree tends to splash when simmering, using a deep sauce pan prevents it from messing the cooktop.
- Add oil and cumin seeds. When cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds. Sliced onion and green chili go in now, sauté for a minute. Add tomatoes, salt and dry spices and stir well. Then, add 1/2 cup water, stir, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.
- Open the lid and add 1/2 bag of baby spinach and stir to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining spinach and wilt for around 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using a hand blender puree the spinach mix.
- Turn on heat to medium, add paneer cubes and simmer for 30 sec- 1 min, till paneer cubes become soft. Turn off the heat. Stir in butter, this adds a silky smooth finish to the sauce, and gives it a gorgeous shine. Add the sugar and stir. This is optional and totally a personal preference. Serve Palak Paneer warm, with Jeera rice/Cumin Rice, Toor Dal, or store-bought Naan, or Roti. Enjoy!
Tip for Pureeing Spinach Without Painting your Kitchen Green 🙂
Hand Blenders are great when you want to puree a sauce and get a velvety smooth finish. But, unless the quantity is enough to submerge the blender-head in the sauce, they tend to splash the sauce all over. To avoid that, I transfer the spinach mix to a tall measuring cup, or the jar that came with my hand blender set. I puree the spinach in that and there are no splashes at all.
Enjoy a Delicious Indian Vegetarian Meal!
Here are some popular pairings with Palak Paneer. Usually, we have Palak Paneer with Cumin Basmati Rice or Naan. You can pair it with Brown Jasmine rice as well. One of my favorite comfort meals is Palak Paneer with Toor Dal Tadka (Pigeon Peas Soup), Cumin Rice and Cucumber Raita. It’s one of those meals that I long for when I’ve been away from home traveling.
Brown Jasmin Rice
Toor Dal Tadka (Split Pigeon Peas)
Cucumber Raita (Cucumber Yogurt Dip)
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Palak Paneer is a popular North Indian Punjabi curry made by cooking soft paneer (Indian cottage cheese), in a healthy and tasty spinach gravy.
- 10 oz. bag of baby spinach
- 10 oz. block of paneer cubed in 1/2 inch pieces (Costco or Indian grocery store)
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste 1/2 inch ginger + 3 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion slices
- 2 medium tomatoes chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 green chili (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1/4 teaspoon amchur (dry mango powder) or 1 teaspoon lemon juice at the end
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- 1 teaspoon butter (optional)
Turn on the Instant Pot on SAUTE. Wait 30 seconds for it to heat up. Add oil and cumin seeds. When cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds. Add sliced onion and green chili, and sauté for a minute. Add tomatoes, sauté for 30 seconds. Then, add salt and dry spices and stir well. Add 1/2 cup water and stir. Close the lid. Set pressure valve to SEALING. Cook on MANUAL for 3 minutes.
Release the pressure immediately (QR). Turn on SAUTE. Add 1/2 bag of baby spinach and stir to wilt. add the remaining bag and cook till spinach leaves soften, around 2 minutes. Turn off IP. Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the spinach mix. I prefer to use the food processor to avoid splatters of spinach.
Pour the spinach puree back in IP. Turn on SAUTE. Add paneer cubes and stir for 30 seconds- 1 minute, till paneer cubes become soft. Turn IP off. Stir in sugar and butter, this brings the dish to life and gives it a shine. Serve hot with zeera rice or naan. Enjoy!