Palak paneer has become one of my favorite vegetarian dishes. I never liked any vegetarian dishes before marriage but a lot of food choices have changed post marriage. Why? Because my husband and in laws are vegetarians. I was never good at cooking veggies, so when I started cooking I had to call my mom for almost all the recipes. After a lot of trial and errors, I can finally say I can cook good vegetarians meals and now I am sure my mom will love my version of palak paneer or any other dish. I don’t make this very often as my dear husband doesn’t like it much but whenever I make I like to pair it with tandoori roti and some onion cucumber salad.
I usually follow my mother’s recipe for palak paneer with just one change, adding mint leaves. The flavour of mint adds freshness to the dish, you can choose to skip it as well. The palak gravy usually get a smooth velvety texture if you use a mortar pestale to prepare onion, tomato and ginger paste, but you can prepare the paste using a mixer grinder as well. I prefer chopping them as finely as I can and use. My mom adds heeng while preparing the paste and gives ghee tadka at the end, but I prefer adding heeng to the tadka. Palak paneer goes well with phulkas, tandoori roti or even rice. Use homemade paneer if possible as its easy to make. If you want to use fried paneer, then do it before making the gravy and use the same pan to make gravy.
How to make a kid friendly version:
My son can’t tolerate the heat of chillies (not even a bit) so I use red chilli powder and add it to the tadka along with heeng after taking out a portion from the spinach gravy. This tadka takes the taste to a different level so don’t skip it. Also, add the tadka just before serving. The picture below is my son’s portion.
2 big bunches or 4 small bunches of spinach
Paneer cubes as needed
1/4 cup, loosely packed mint leaves (optional)
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 big tomato, chopped finely
5 to 6 big garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 inch ginger, chopped finely
Green chilly to taste, chopped finely
2 tsp jeera (cumin) powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp pepper powder, freshly ground
1 tsp haldi (turmeric) powder
1/4 to 1/2 cup full cream milk or 3 to 4 tbsp of cream
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1 bay lead
2 tbsp mustard oil
For the tadka:
Ghee as needed
Hing as per your taste
Clean the spinach leaves properly using water. Steam the leaves for 5 minutes and dip it in cold water. This will ensure the color stays intact and then puree the spinach along with the mint leaves in a grinder. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan add bay leaf, followed by chopped onion, ginger and garlic. Add salt, mix, keep the flame low and fry till the onions turns very soft. Once done, add chopped tomatoes, jeera powder, haldi to it and cook till oil separates from the mixture. Add pepper powder, garam masala, sugar and mix. Saute for a minute and add palak puree. At this time, you can add some warm water to the puree as per the consistency you desire. Bring it to a boil, add milk or cream, mix, bring it to a boil and add paneer cubes. Keep the flame low, let it simmer for 2-3 minutes and turn off the flame.
For tadka, Heat some ghee in your tadka laddle. Add hing and chilli powder to the heated ghee, spread over the palak paneer and serve.
* Do not skip pepper powder and sugar, it enhance the taste. Also try to use freshly ground pepper powder only.