Can you believe I never liked palak paneer as a kid? My reason? Solely because it was green!
Thats right. I refused to eat anything with a hint of green. This was probably because I tried one green thing (I am guessing it was cilantro – yes I am one of those people who thinks it tastes like soap!) and decided all green things were gross!
Thankfully I grew out of that green hating phase. I realized I was missing out on so much deliciousness like okra, or green peppers, or even avocado! But also mostly because I love cheese (Paneer) and I now know that spinach is good for you and actually doesn’t taste that gross when cooked right.
So here is a quick and easy palak paneer that you can feel good about eating because it is good for you too!
To make this a dairy free palak paneer
The paneer has a very similar texture to firm tofu. So you can easily substitute the paneer for tofu and you won’t loose any flavour because paneer by its nature is quite bland. It tends to soak up the flavour of whatever it is cooked in. A lot like tofu!
The curry also has some cream in it, which can either be skipped or substitute for your favourite non-dairy creamer or some full fat coconut milk!
Easy Palak Paneer
- 375 g paneer, cubed (or firm tofu)
- 3 tbsp oil, divided
- pinch salt
- 400 g fresh spinach leaves, washed and drained (baby spinach will work too)
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 tbsp minced ginger
- 2 tbsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
- 1 green chilli, diced
- 1 tsp salt
- squeeze of lemon, for serving
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (non-dairy creamer or full fat coconut milk)
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp garam masala (See below to make your own)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Prepare the Spinach
- Set up an ice water bath. Fill a large bowl with water and ice.
- Blanche the spinach leaves. Fill a separate large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp salt and then the spinach leaves. Allow them to submerge in the hot water for about 30 seconds. They will turn bright green. Scoop out the spinach with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge into the ice water bath to keep the green colour vibrant (if you want to skip the ice water bath you can, but it will affect the final colour of your curry).
- Drain the spinach leaves and blend in a blender or food processor until smooth. (If you want to use an immersion blender wait until you add the spinach to the curry before blending the whole thing). Set aside.
Prepare the Paneer
- In a large wok or sauce pan, heat 2 tbsp oil on medium heat and add the paneer cubes in a single layer. You may need to do this in two batches to not overcrowd the pan. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and allow to cook on one side and turn golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Toss and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown all over. Remove and set aside. Keep the wok, you will need it again to make the sauce.
Make the Curry
- In the same wok or saucepan, start to make the spinach curry. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil on medium heat (you should still have some oil leftover from frying the paneer, that is fine).
- Add 1 diced onion and saute with a pinch of salt until the onions have softened (about 5-10 minutes).
- While the onions cook measure out your spice mix in a small bowl and set aside.
- Once the onions are done, add 2 tbsp minced ginger, 2 tbsp garlic and 1 diced green chilli. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant and garlic is starting to brown.
- Add the spice mix. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the blended spinach leaves, 1/2 cup heavy cream or coconut milk and salt to taste.
- Simmer on medium low for 5 -10 minutes for the flavours to combine.
- Add the fried paneer pieces and serve immediately with a splash of lemon juice on top.