Learn how to make delicious restaurant style Palak Paneer at home with my easy tricks and tips. And keep your naan ready to dip into this luscious spinach curry, because it's finger licking good!
I’ve always loved Palak Paneer but somehow it’s always been one of those dishes that you mostly order at restaurants and rarely ever make it at home.
However, not any longer, because I’ve figured out how easy it is to make it at home, and today I’m going to teach you how to do it too!
Palak Paneer quite literally translates into Spinach Cottage Cheese. It’s a silky, creamy curry made with a base of spinach and fried cottage cheese.
I’m not quite sure what I like more, the creamy spinach curry or the fried cottage cheese…well if I’m honest, it’s definitely the fried cottage cheese that’s the star of the show here. Hehe.
What is Cottage Cheese?
Cottage cheese is a soft cheese that’s made from the curds of skimmed milk.
Paneer is made by adding lemon juice or white vinegar to milk and is cooked on low heat, until curds form. And then this curdled milk is strained in a flannel cloth and hung so that all the excess liquid is drained and the cottage cheese is formed.
Saag Paneer vs Palak Paneer
Saag and palak are two different things. While palak is spinach, saag comprises of different Indian greens.
There’s a definite difference in the taste as well, and there’s also a difference in the way both recipes are made.
How to Make It
Palak Paneer is super easy to make my way…but let me take you through step by step to make this delicious Indian curry.
Three Steps to Palak Paneer
- The spinach curry which is the base of this Palak Paneer recipe.
- Then there’s the cottage cheese which is fried to golden perfection.
- And finally we finish off with a delicious garlic tadka which is a garlic infused tempered oil. I talk more about tadka in this recipe for Dal Tadka.
Now let me walk you through each step in detail.
1.) Palak (Spinach) Curry
To Blanch or To Not Blanch the Spinach?
The palak curry is usually a little tricky, because you need to blanch fresh spinach leaves. And then it has to be pureed. I normally never have enough time to do that, so I almost never bring fresh spinach when I'm making Palak Paneer.
My Secret Tip for Making It the Easy Way
However, I use a shortcut method, by using chopped frozen paneer. This helps you skip the whole step of blanching fresh spinach, and then pureeing it.
So now that we’ve decided we are using frozen spinach let’s talk about making the curry.
All delicious Indian curries start with a base of chopped onions and tomatoes.
You’ll start by sautéing chopped onion in a little bit of oil until lightly golden.
Then you’ll add chopped tomatoes, and along with them will go in a handful of spices: lal mirch powder, turmeric (haldi), coriander (dhania) powder and salt.
Then you’ll cook this tomato onion masala until the oil separates from the curry and you can see it on the surface of the curry. This is called bhunnai, and this technique is used in South Asian cooking.
Then we add the frozen chopped spinach, and cook it until it has thawed completely and cooked through - takes about 10 minutes while stirring occasionally.
To get the restaurant style Palak Paneer taste, I like to puree the palak curry with an immersion (hand) blender. You can even use a blender to blend the palak curry into a smooth puree.
I also like to add a little bit of dried fenugreek leaves (sookhi methi) at the end, because I feel it adds that umami flavour to South Asian curries and rounds them up quite nicely.
And then stir in a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream, and you’re good to go!
Once this is ready, set it aside while you prepare the fried cottage cheese.
2.) Fried Paneer (Cottage Cheese) - Golden Perfection!
For the cottage cheese or paneer, I like to use frozen paneer as well since its so convenient. However, you may use fresh cottage cheese as well.
If using frozen paneer, let it thaw a bit before frying it.
Then fry the cottage cheese in a little bit of oil, until golden brown and crispy from the outside. Make sure to flip sides to that it’s golden brown from all sides.
3.) Garlic Tadka for Palak Paneer - the Finishing Touch!
This is an optional step, but it adds a really nice flavour to the Palak Paneer, so I highly recommend it.
Tadka is a tempering in which spices are roasted in oil to release their flavour and aroma. It’s used for finishing off different recipes such as daal and spinach based curries.
For Palak Paneer, I like to temper some thinly sliced garlic and cumin seeds in oil and then pour it on top of the curry.
And there you have it, delicious restaurant style Palak Paneer is ready!
For the Palak Curry
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 medium tomato chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon lal mirch powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder haldi
- Salt to taste
- 200 grams frozen spinach
- 1/2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves sookhi methi
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
For the Fried Paneer (Cottage Cheese)
- 4 tablespoons oil for frying
- 100 grams cottage cheese I used frozen, but you may use fresh cottage cheese
For the Garlic Tadka (Oil Tempering)
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 1 green chilli sliced into half, lengthwise
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
For the Palak Curry
- In a large pot, heat oil to a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until softened and lightly golden brown.
- Add the chopped tomato, and also add the spices.
- Cook for about 7-10 minutes on high heat, while stirring often, until you start to see the oil separating from the curry.
- Now add the spinach, and cook until its thawed completely and is cooked through.
- Using an immersion (hand) blender or blender, puree the spinach until smooth.
- Finish the palak curry off with a sprinkle of dried fenugreek leaves (sookhi methi) and heavy cream. Cover the pot with a lid and set aside while you fry the cottage cheese.
For the Fried Paneer (Cottage Cheese)
- In a medium frying pan, heat the oil to a medium high heat and fry the paneer until it is golden brown.
- Make sure to flip slides so that the paneer is golden brown on all sides.
- Add the paneer to the prepared palak curry.
For the Garlic Tadka
- Heat oil in a medium frying pan and add the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds or so.
- Add the green chilli and fry for another 30 seconds, and then add the cumin seeds and fry them for about 15 seconds until they release an aroma.
- Carefully pour this tadka over the prepared palak paneer.
- Serve immediately with steamed rice or naan.