Thursday, March 14, 2013

Palak Paneer (Cottage Cheese in Spinach Sauce)

When I run out of ideas about what to have for dinner, I fall back on paneer (cottage cheese) and one of my favourite paneer dishes is palak paneer. I know there is nothing new about palak paneer, almost everybody cooks it and there might be about hundreds of palak paneer recipes going around on the internet. However, I felt  there is no harm in me adding my palak paneer to that list.

My mum used to add a few suva leaves (dill leaves) to the palak (spinach). One day mum and I were watching a cooking programme on a Bengali channel that was being hosted by the popular Bengali actress of yesteryears - Supriya Devi. She was cooking chicken with spinach and she mentioned that she had learnt to cook this dish from a cook in a dhaba (dhabas are roadside restaurants usually located on highways). She deep fried some fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) and removed the seeds from the oil, she added the boiled spinach leaves to this oil and stirred it well. She later added  these spinach leaves to the chicken she had cooked earlier. Mum found this interesting and decided to try it out and sure enough it was yummy; the fenugreek seeds had imparted a wonderful  flavour to the dish. One thing bothered my mother and that was deep frying the fenugreek seeds, so she decided to substitute the fenugreek seeds with fenugreek leaves and instead of chicken, mum used paneer and  a wonderful version of palak paneer was ready.

So here is the recipe, as usual I have used homemade paneer.


  • Approximately 250 to 300 grams paneer.
  • One bunch spinach leaves
  • ¼ bunch fenugreek leaves
  • One big onion or one and a half to two medium size onions
  • One to one and a half teaspoon ginger paste
  • 2 cloves garlic. If the clove of garlic is a big one then use one.
  • One green cardamom
  • 3 cloves
  • About an inch of cinnamon stick
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Green chilli paste or red chilli powder to taste
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons of coriander-cumin seed mix powder
  • One tomato
  • Salt to taste.


  • If you use 2 cloves of garlic then finely chop one clove of garlic and grind the other clove to a paste. If you are using one big clove of garlic, then divide the garlic into two and chop one part and grind the other.
  • Wash the spinach leaves.
  • Pick the  fenugreek leaves from the stem and wash them well.Take care not add too much fenugreek leaves, just use a little; all you need is that hint of flavour of fenugreek.
  • Either boil or blanch spinach and fenugreek leaves, I prefer to boil the leaves.
  • Squeeze out all the water from the boiled leaves. Keep this water aside.
  • Grind the leaves to a paste. If you are using green chillies, you may grind the green chillies along with the spinach and fenugreek leaves.

Spinach and Fenugreek Leaves Paste

  • Chop the paneer into cubes. 
  • Heat some oil in a vessel and deep fry the pieces of paneer. Take a look at my chhaanar dalna video to see how I fry the pieces of paneer.
  • If you make paneer at home you will have whey, drop the pieces of fried paneer into this whey or take a bowl of water and drop the paneer pieces in the water and allow to soak for some time.  
  • Heat required quantity of oil, approximately 3 to 4 tablespoons. I would suggest you use your judgement.
  • Add the cumin seeds to the oil. Add the onion pieces when the seeds begin to crackle.
  • Fry the onions till they turn slightly brown.
  • Add the chopped pieces of garlic and stir for a while.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste.
  • You may then add the powdered masalas (spices) to the onions and ginger-garlic paste or you may do what I sometimes do. I usually take a little whey or water in a small bowl, to this I add the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, coriander- cumin mix powder and Kashmiri chilli powder and make a smooth paste. I use the Kashmiri chilli powder in place of the green chilli paste. I add this paste to the  onions.
  • Now fry this mix of onions and spices really well till you see the oil separating from the spices.
  • Add the paneer along with the water or whey in which the paneer has been soaking. Also add the water  left over from the boiled leaves.
  • Add salt to taste and cook for a while.
  • Allow some of the water to evaporate, now add the boiled spinach and fenugreek leaves paste.
  • Stir  well, the gravy should be thick and not watery. 
  • Dry grind the cloves, cinnamon stick and green cardamom.  
  • When the dish is nearly done sprinkle this powder on the dish and stir well. Garnish with thinly sliced tomato before serving.
It goes very well with rotis, parathas or even bread.


  1. Somehow, I've never been able to get palak paneer just right, even though I've tried various recipes. My favourite is the one my mother-in-law makes, but it's so full of ghee that it makes my arteries shudder! Will try this recipe, Shilpi. It sounds good.

    1. Madhu, I am sorry for this delayed response, I have just shot a video of palak paneer. I will upload it after my brother finishes with the editing and all the post -production, it will then be easier for you.I agree with you about the ghee, but have to admit ghee makes food tasty, but I totally avoid it.