Today’s recipe is a favorite of mine for a couple of reasons – I love spinach and green is my favorite color 😀 Growing up, if there was one green leafy vegetable I ate heartily, it was Palak (spinach). In Chennai, Palak has never been available throughout the year. It was highly seasonal and hence, very much loved. My amma makes Andhra style Palakura Pappu, a comfort food – a recipe coming up soon.
Not until I started taking a lot more interest in cooking, did we make Palak Paneer at home. Like Palak, Paneer – cottage cheese was not widely available either. I still remember the first time I prepared cottage cheese at home. I couldn’t believe how little cheese turned up from almost a litre of milk. We preserved it and used it in different forms – one of which was Palak Paneer.
This might not be the traditional recipe of Palak Paneer, but a version we love at home. It is as low calorie as it can get, as I usually don’t add cream to my Palak Paneer gravy. And yet, it turns out creamy. I guess that’s the magic of Palak puree. To add to the texture, instead of pureeing onion & tomatoes I diced them up finely. Another trick to getting the perfectly green colored Palak Paneer is to blanch the spinach leaves and not to overcook them. I have kept the spices to a minimum in this recipe – red chilli powder, turmeric and a pinch of garam masala. And before I forget, this is a Low Calorie Palak Paneer recipe. This goes really well with hot pulkas/rotis.
To make Palak Paneer
What I used –
- Spinach/Palak, 1 big bunch/2 cups tightly packed
- Cottage Cheese/Paneer, 200 gms
- Onion, 1 large
- Tomato, 1 large
- Cumin Seeds/Jeera, 1 tsp
- Dried Bay Leaf, 1
- Garlic Pods, 2-3
- Ginger, 1” piece
- Green Chillies, 2-3
- Ginger Garlic Paste, ½ tsp
- Red Chilli Powder, ¾ tsp
- Turmeric Powder, ¼ tsp
- Garam Masala Powder, ¼ tsp
- Asafoetida/Hing, a pinch (optional)
- Oil, 1 tbsp
- Water, 3 cups
- Ice Cold Water, 3 cups
How I made –
1. Thoroughly wash the spinach leaves a few times. Bring water to a boil in a pot and switch off the flame. Put the spinach leaves and keep the pot covered for 5mins. Remove the spinach leaves and put them in ice cold water for another 5mins. This would help retain the green color.
2. In a mixer jar, add the blanched spinach leaves, chopped green chillies, garlic pods and ginger. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
3. In a pan, heat oil. Add jeera/cumin seeds and bay leaf. As cumin seeds pop, add finely chopped onion and fry until translucent. Add ginger garlic paste and fry for 2 mins.
4. Add finely chopped tomato and cook until mushy. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and fry until the raw smell goes, for a minute. Add pureed spinach and salt required.
5. On a low flame, cook the spinach paste for 6-7 mins covered. The puree can splutter, so always keep it covered. When the spinach puree thickens, add garam masala powder and asafoetida. Add cubed cottage cheese/paneer. Cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat.
6. Serve hot with rotis/pulkas/any Indian bread.
- Always blanch the spinach and never directly cook it before pureeing. Blanching would help retain the color. I add tender stems as well, along with the palak leaves.
- If desired, cook onion and tomatoes in a tsp of oil and puree separately.
- To keep the cottage cheese soft, immerse it in hot water for 2 mins and then cube it up.
- Adjust the quantity of green chillies and red chilli powder as per spice preference.
- Add water at any stage as per the desired consistency.
- For a creamier version, top the gravy with fresh cream.