This Easy Palak Paneer recipe tastes incredible with a few secret tips and tricks to get that same restaurant style flavour. You don't need to pre blanch the spinach, or add too many masalas. Quick, easy but so good!!
Palak paneer is a house favourite and I've been improving my recipe for years. I'm talking about a creamy, mildly flavoured herby green gravy that doesn't have any bitter spinach flavour or is heavy on spices. This is an easy recipe which means that there are no complicated steps, no long list of masalas, no major prep work. And the flavors are so restaurant style that I might almost stop ordering palak paneer outside.
Quick Walk Through: Palak Paneer
Blanching Spinach for Palak Paneer
Most palak paneer recipes on the internet will tell you to blanch spinach in hot water for a minute or two till it wilts and then immediately transfer it to cold water to stop the cooking process. Honestly, we don't need that. That's just one extra step which results in two extra things you have to clean. My method here is really unconventional - the spinach is lightly sauteed with onion, garlic and fresh coriander till it wilts. Exactly the same result as blanching without the extra effort.
Base of the Gravy
The base of the gravy comes from onions, garlic, tomatoes and all that spinach of course. What I've tried to do here is to retain the beautiful spinach flavour while cutting out the bitterness. Cooking it lightly and blending it with cooked onion and garlic makes an extra creamy gravy.
Secret Ingredient in this recipe
The secret ingredient in my recipe is fresh Coriander. I use some and blend it with spinach. It makes this dish taste herby, fresh and keeps it green without adding any coriander flavour. Nobody will guess!
Extra Garlic Tadka
I'm a big fan of garlic and my favourite way to boost that flavour is to add a spicy garlic tadka in the end. But even I'll admit, this one time, I liked palak paneer better without the tadka. Its an option in the recipe if you want to go with it, but just taste the palak paneer without it and you'll be amazed at how good it already is, and how little it needs.
Top Tips to make Restaurant Style Palak Paneer
- Preparing Spinach: If you want a truly creamy gravy, remove the hardy stems of spinach and only use the leaves. The stems are nutritious but make the gravy more fibrous
- Use only Green Chillies: For a natural bright green colour in palak paneer, use only green chillies for heat. Don't add any red chilli powder because that's one sure shot way of making the gravy brownish. Plus we have more chilli powder in the tadka that goes on top but doesn't affect the colour in any way
- Mild Spices: Stick to the recipe and don't go heavy on the spices. This recipe really doesn't need it. Let the beautiful flavour of palak or spinach really shine
- Coriander: Don't skip the coriander in the recipe because it helps keep that green intact and also cuts the bitterness out of the dish
- Don't overcook: Palak paneer becomes brownish when you over cook the spinach puree. At both times - first when sauteeing the spinach with onions, and later after you add the pureed spinach to the pan, cook for only 1-2 minutes. Bring the puree to a gentle boil and turn off the flame, because the longer you cook, the more oxidisation will take place and you'll leave that naturally beautiful bright green colour.
- Don't skip the cream: We are not using much - just 2 tablespoons of cream in the entire recipe which serves four. It adds volume to the gravy and makes it rich and luxurious.
- Vegan Palak Paneer: Palak paneer is easily made into a vegan recipe. Swap the paneer for tofu, the cream for coconut cream and the ghee for oil.
Is this palak paneer giving you the green, healthy feels yet?
If you try this out, I’d love to see your creations on Instagram. Tag your pictures #myfoodstory and I’d be sure to say hi!
This post was first published on January 11, 2017 and updated on 16 June, 2021 with significant changes to the recipe to improve the flavours and new images.
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Easy Palak Paneer Recipe
- 2 tablespoons Ghee divided
- 6 Garlic Cloves chopped
- 1-2 Green Chilli chopped
- 1 Onion sliced
- 150 grams chopped Palak (spinach), stems and roots removed - approximately one bunch
- 10 grams fresh Coriander stems and roots removed - approximately ¼ cup
- 1 Bayleaf
- 2 Cardamom Pods
- 2 Cloves
- 1 large Tomato finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon Jeera Powder
- ½ teaspoon Coriander Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Kasuri Methi roasted and crushed into a powder
- 2 tablespoon Cream
- 200 grams Paneer cut into cubes
For the Tadka/Tempering
- 1.5 tablespoons Ghee
- 5 Garlic Cloves smashed with skin on
- 2-3 whole dried Red Chillies
- 1 teaspoon Jeera
- 1 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
- Heat a tablespoon of ghee in a pan and saute garlic for 30 seconds. Add sliced onions and green chillies and saute till the onion is just starting to become light brown. Add the palak (spinach) and coriander leaves and saute for a minute. Then turn off the heat and cover and let the leaves wilt for another 2-3 minutes. Set this aside to cool and then blend to a paste.
- In a bowl, add paneer and cover this with hot water. Let this sit for 10 minutes. This step is optional, but it helps soften the paneer.
- In the same pan, heat ghee and saute bayleaf, cardamom and cloves for a minute. Add tomatoes, jeera powder, coriander powder and salt and cook the tomatoes for 4-5 minutes till soft. Add kasuri methi and garam masala and cook for another minute.
- Add the pureed spinach and bring this to a gentle boil. Then turn off the heat, add the cream and paneer and let the paneer warm up in the hot gravy. If you haven’t soaked your paneer in hot water earlier, then let the paneer simmer in the gravy for a minute.
- Finally make the tadka by add ghee and garlic to a small pan. Cook the garlic till its a golden brown. Then add whole red chillies and jeera. Once the jeera starts spluttering, turn off the flame and add chilli powder.
- Pour this tadka on the palak paneer for an extra garlicky kick! Serve hot.
- Use fresh tender spinach leaves. You can discard the stems or use them for any other dish. Tender stems however, can be used.
- I only use paneer for this dish. However, it is super versatile. You can add your favourite vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, potato etc., or even proteins like shrimp, chicken or mutton. The cook time will vary accordingly.
- To make this dish vegan, you can substitute fresh cream with coconut cream. You can also skip the cream if required.
- If the spinach tastes bitter, you can add half a teaspoon of sugar and adjust it to your liking.