Create the most authentic and delicious version of the famous Indian vego curry - Palak Paneer, but with a twist! Using kale! A gorgeous, silky green weeknight option for a quick family meal, Kale Paneer can be frozen and easily packed in lunch boxes for a nutritious work lunch.
We are a regular Popeye family. Spinach features heavily in our meals. From daals and curries to pastas and one pan meals. Palak Paneer was one of my most favourite meal while growing up. I have made several versions of it over the years based on all the different variations I have sampled in different eateries. But the silky smooth sauce of the traditional version cradling the most delectable cubes of golden fried paneer has my heart. With smoky garlic undertones, this is the version most likely to be found in good restaurants across India and is actually quite a cinch to make.
It is in fact, my go to recipe when inspiration and time are both lacking. To enable this quick meal as a backup, I always make sure I have two packs of frozen spinach in my freezer and two packs of fresh paneer from the deli in my fridge. These ingredients are so routine that they don't even need to be on a shopping list, I automatically head for them as I stroll through the aisles at the supermarket. A testament to the number of times this dish gets made at home.
After making the age old Palak Paneer for the umpteenth time, as I leafed through the pages of my cookbook for dinner inspiration; I had an epiphany. In my cookbook, I have a recipe for Kale And Spinach Soup. Why not give the good old Palak Paneer a fabulously modern twist and make it with kale? It was about time the bunnies stopped having the fresh bunches of kale I bought for them every week. We deserved full access to those green leafy bouquets as well. So I started making Kale Paneer instead and quite frankly, they both taste very similar.
The spinach version tends to be silkier (because obviously spinach is a more delicate leaf) while the kale version seems to be nuttier and more smoky. My local supermarket has started stocking packs of chopped frozen kale. So these tend to get picked up at my weekly shop as well. Most of the time, I will add the paneer cubes unadulterated. But occasionally, I'll pan fry them in a bit of ghee till they start turning golden and the dish will instantly acquire a wow factor both in looks and taste. The trick to getting a silky smooth sauce is first steaming the greens briefly before pulverising in a blender. This breaks down their fibrous structure.
Hope you enjoy this clever and economical bit of weeknight cooking. Don't forget to rate the recipe when you comment below. Tag your creations with #cookrepublic when you share on social media. I always love to see what everyone is cooking from the blog! x
Hungry For More Recipes? Subscribe to my newsletter. Check out Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to see everything I share! And if you love cooking and new cookbooks, join my free Cooking Club on Facebook!
- 500 g frozen chopped kale
- 2 large red onions, coarsely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 cm flat piece of ginger
- 1 small green chili
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
- 2 ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
- ¼ cup fresh cream
- 500 g fresh paneer, cubed
- knob of butter and micro herbs, to serve
- Fill a large saucepan with water about 3cm deep. Place a steaming insert/steamer basket inside the saucepan making sure it doesn’t touch the water. Place frozen kale on the steamer basket, cover and steam on high for approximately 8 minutes until kale is a shade darker and looks a bit wilted. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Place steamed kale, onion, garlic, ginger and chili in the jug of a blender along with 1 cup of water. Blend for a couple of minutes until silky smooth. Set aside.
- Heat ghee in a sauté pan or small wok on medium. Add the cumin seeds and bay leaf. Fry for a few seconds until starting to sizzle and spurt. Slowly add the kale purée to the hot pan. Reduce heat to low and cook while stirring gently and occasionally for approximately 10 minutes. Add ground cumin, garam masala, chili powder and salt. Mix well and cook for another 10 minutes. If the sauce starts to feel a bit dry, add a quarter cup water to loosen it. Add cream and paneer. Mix well. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes until cream is well incorporated and warmed through. Remove from heat.
- Garnish with herbs. Serve hot with a knob of butter along with steamed rice or naan.
Lovely recipe Sneh! I have tried many many of your recipes and they all turn out lovely! My kids used to love only restaurant North Indian dishes. Being a South Indian, I could never capture that. But with your recipes, my kids are enjoying home food Thank you!!
A use for my garden full of kale!
Turned out well! I will make it again!
Thanks for the option.
Now I have had my lunch, time for abhiyanga Sneha!
I made this for a neighborhood get together. I added some smoked paprika and everyone Loved it! A great use of my neighbors excess Kale.
I made this tonight. I thought the dish was promising, but my execution was very disappointing. The recipe doesn't specify which type of chili pepper to use, so I used a poblano. Big mistake! I didn't know then that poblano peppers can be very bitter, and the bitterness totally overpowered the other flavors. I will try this again sometime with another type of chili pepper (jalapeno? some time after my wife and I recover from eating the huge skillet of this that we made)! I am not giving a rating, because I am chalking my experience up to operator error. Thank you for sharing this recipe--I really do mean that. 🙂
Thank you for your candid feedback. The recipe states a small green chilli and the chilli is shown in the process shots. It is how the chilli is sold here in Australia (labelled simply as green chilli). I use this in cooking when I can find it as it has a slight bite, but the staple green chilli I use is a cayenne chilli (slightly longer and darker green). Yes, Poblano would be bitter and is more of a roasting chilli as it doesn't have much of a bite. Having said that, I think the bitterness in your dish has come mainly from the kale? Maybe it needed a slightly longer steaming time to reduce the bitterness (some bitterness would still remain as that is the nature of kale). I am glad you aren't discouraged from cooking this, I urge you to try with frozen spinach the next time you cook this. You will love that! No bitterness, I promise! x
Will you need to steam the kale beforehand if you are using fresh kale? Maybe just 4 minutes instead of 8?
Yes that would work
This is a wonderful alternative to the regular palak paneer!
Will it work just as well with fresh kale too?
Yes, but you will need a lot of it 🙂
This looks so good! Where do you get the paneer from?
Thank you! I buy from Coles or Woolies (brand Lemnos) or make my own. x
Was looking for information on substituting Kale for Spinach in this dish, and found your recipe! Thanks
I make my own paneer , we have milk goats and tons of Kale in the garden, but no more spinach . Indian food is my favorite even if I am not Indian !
How to adapt this for fresh kale? Thanks!
Just use the same amount of fresh kale leaves (stems and thick veins removed). x
Hi Sneh, Congratulations on 11 years of food blogging. I have been blogging for the past 11 years too. I have never commented here but felt compelled to leave a comment. Absolutely gorgeous photography and recipes. There is something very serene about your food space. Keep up the good work. 🙂
Quite Innovative recipe.. The pictures are so good. doesnt Kale taste more bitter in pureed form? But I guess spices and onions balances the taste. Got to try it!
Cheers Sapana! Actually it doesn't. You are right about the spices but the gentle steaming in the first step takes away the bitterness. Raw kale is bitter but when cooked down, loses its sharpness quite a bit.
I just discovered your blog today through ig. I love it! I am in aw with your photographes. So incredible beautiful. I read your post on blogging and stopping with the events you organise. Maybe you can use the blog for teaching people how to make stylish pictures? Less energy absorbing than a life class I would think. I certainly would love to read about it, but I will follow you from now on no matter what you write about!
I love the new look of your site!
A scrumptiously healthy dish.
Thanks Rosa! Your comments always brighten my day x
I usually make Palak tofu, but I've never thought about using kale instead of spinach...it's an easy but brilliant substitution!!