Have you always wanted to make Vibrant Green Palak Paneer – bright green and fresh without any additives? My easy fifteen-minute recipe teaches you the traditional blanching technique that creates restaurant-style, traditional palak paneer. The greenest version you have ever seen. Lighter and utterly delicious too!
How To Make beautiful Green Palak Paneer?
In the past, I have shared a recipe that uses frozen spinach/kale. An easy and convenient recipe when you can’t get your hands on fresh bunches of English spinach. In recent months, I have reverted to cooking Palak Paneer the traditional way. It is what creates a really vibrant green palak paneer like the kind you find in good Indian restaurants. And the flavour is reminiscent of rustic, roadside dhabas/eating shacks in India that sell hot Punjabi style Palak Paneer with gnarly naans.
Firstly, can you believe that this recipe only takes fifteen minutes? You need about 250 grams of spinach. I find 3 bunches of English spinach yields this amount. I pick the leaves, wash them really well and then blanch them in hot boiling water for a minute or two before dousing them in an ice-filled cold water bath. This stops the cooking process and retains that vibrant green colour.
You don’t need a lot of spices for this dish as the flavour of spinach needs to come through green and strong. My recipe is a really light and healthier version of the traditional recipe without compromising on the taste. In my recipe notes, I share a tempering technique I use to add an extra layer of oomph and decadence to this recipe for special occasions. The Palak Paneer can be cooked a day or two ahead and reheated. It keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days. It goes really well with rice or naan.
A few things to remember about Spinach
Always wash spinach in cold water. Spinach carries a lot of dirt and sand and washing, rinsing and draining is a must to remove all the grit.
Spinach has an inherent bitterness that you can get rid of by clever cooking. One of the tricks is to not overcook it. Overcooking spinach not only increases the oxidisation and turns it darker but also brings out the bitterness of the leafy vegetable. Cook it strictly for the amount of time mentioned in the recipe
Make sure you pick only the leaves and remove all the stems. The stems make the dish more fibrous (less smooth) and add to the bitterness.
If you can’t find English spinach, substitute it with baby spinach leaves. Baby spinach leaves are inherently sweeter than spinach with larger leaves. This will remedy the bitterness issue altogether. Baby spinach leaves only need to be blanched in hot water for 15-20 seconds before going in the ice water bath as they are more delicate.
And lastly, adding lemon or some kind of sourness combats some of the bitterness in the recipe.
VIBRANT GREEN PALAK PANEER
- 250 g fresh English spinach leaves*, from 3 bunches
- Pinch of salt
- 300 g fresh paneer, cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium green cayenne chilli, roughly chopped
- 150 g onion, roughly chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, medium-sized, chopped
- ½ inch piece of ginger, sliced
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves
- 3 peppercorns
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon methi (dried fenugreek leaves)**
- ¼ teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder)***
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
- Pick leaves from three bunches of English spinach. Wash and rinse them in cold water to remove sand and dirt. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add spinach leaves with a pinch of salt to the hot water and cook for 2 minutes. While the leaves are cooking, add cold water to a large bowl/basin. Add ice cubes to ensure the water is very cold. As soon as the 2 minutes are up, scoop the spinach leaves into the ice water bath and submerge them completely. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a sauté pan on medium. Add green chilli, onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for approximately 8 minutes, tossing constantly until onion is glazed and caramelized.
- Add the onion mixture to a blender. Scoop the spinach leaves out of the cold water, squeeze them lightly and add to the blender with ½ cup cold water from the bowl. Blend into a very smooth purée.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same sauté pan on medium. Add cumin seeds, bay leaf, cloves and peppercorns. When the whole spices turn fragrant in a few seconds, reduce heat to low and add the spinach purée to the pan. Mix well.
- Add turmeric, chilli powder and methi. Increase heat to medium-low and cook for a minute.
- Add paneer, amchur, garam masala and salt. Mix gently and continue cooking on medium low for another 2 minutes until heated through.
- Remove from heat and serve hot.