Palak Paneer – so delicious and hearty vegetarian Indian dish that is now popular globally. A smooth and creamy restaurant style spinach and paneer (Indian cottage cheese) dish. Pair this delight with any Indian bread, rice or jeera pulao. Make this palak paneer recipe in the Instant Pot too.
Alhumdulillah! I have been married for 15 years now. The compliment I receive each time from my husband makes me jump up with joy.
Now, let me share an incident with you all. It was 16 years back then, when my husband first came home to see me, before our marriage.
We invited him over lunch, I made this palak paneer recipe that day, he said, “no palak paneer ever fascinated me, but this”. 🙂
There were so many requests from my lovely readers to post best palak paneer recipe. S0, I decided to revive this, my very old recipe blog post and repost it today.
The reason why I wanted to update the post is, an old post had such a pathetic photo that was shot by mobile back then in 2013, lol! Well, i didnt had a camera that time to shoot my food pictures 🙂
Today, we will talk about palak paneer recipe, a very popular North Indian dish again.
Palak = Spinach. Paneer = Indian Cottage Cheese
So, as the words says, this is a vibrant green Punjabi curry of spinach cooked along with paneer in spices and cream.
Palak paneer is super easy to make and very yummy to relish on. It is healthy, delicious, simple and gets ready in no time, in straight 30 minutes.
There are actually two ways of making this dish. In one method, spinach is blanched first and then we puree it. This is the restaurant style method.
In second method, spinach is directly cooked without any blanching. This is palak paneer dhaba style method.
To make this spinach paneer curry, all you need is basic spices from the kitchen. Cream adds smooth texture and rich taste to the dish.
You can also add little cashew nut paste to make the dish more rich and creamy. Also, you can give the coal smoke or dhungar to the curry, for the real dhaba or restaurant flavor.
In dhabas, if you notice, the fat floats on the top of the dish, you will also notice the nice jeera tadka over it.
So, keep in mind that, the best palak paneer curry has loads of oil or ghee that goes into it. And, I do the same.
I know, this may surprise you, but yes we have to use good amount of oil into it. Sometimes, I even use butter to enhance the flavor.
SO, go easy on oil , ghee or butter, if really want to enjoy the authentic dhaba style Punjabi palak recipe at home.
I feel, there is no harm in indulging into a proper restaurant style food at home once in a while. Let that be on your ‘Cheat day‘ ! 🙂
Vegan Palak Paneer
Are you looking for best vegan palak paneer recipe? So, you are at the right place.
To make vegan version of this recipe, you just need to do couple of things. Use tofu instead of paneer and fresh cream with cashew cream or coconut cream.
Ensure to use extra firm tofu. Follow the same method mentioned below. Thus, you have the best palak tofu paneer recipe at home.
So, it is not only vegan, a dairy free recipe but also gluten free vegan palak tofu right at your table.
Storing the Palak Paneer
You can easily make this dish ahead and certainly store it in refrigerator for 3 days.
If you plan to have a get together or party, then this works best.
At the time of serving, re-heat it and serve. You may add some more cream if you wish to.
Also, give the tadka or tempering on the top of palak paneer, It will be as good as the fresh.
Another small tip here that may help you. You can blanch the spinach in bulk and freeze it in portions.
Whenever you plan to make it, simply thaw the frozen puree on the counter. Quickly whip up the dish in 15 minutes.
Frozen Spinach for Palak Paneer
See, honestly, nothing is as good as the fresh vegetables. Same applies to the spinach here.
If you get the best quality fresh spinach, then go ahead with that.
Having said that, in case of crunch of time or non availability, frozen spinach will work fine.
Palak Paneer Ingredients
Palak – Fresh spinach leaves works best always. But, you can use frozen ones as well.
Paneer – Fresh and good quality Indian cottage cheese. You can replace it with tofu for vegan version. If paneer is not available in your part of the world, then you can also use Halloumi cheese instead.
Spices powders – Coriander powder and garam masala powder.
Whole spices – Cumin seeds, dried red chilies.
The other fresh ingredients – Garlic, onion, tomato.
Fat – Oil or ghee, Cream. you can even use little butter to enhance the taste.
If only, you want to smoke the curry – Live charcoal or lump coal and 1teaspoon of oil or ghee.
Top Tips to make best Palak Paneer at home
While blanching the spinach, add a pinch of soda bicarb. This helps in keeping the blanched spinach greener and brighter.
I always blanch the spinach when I make it in restaurant style in pot on stove top. And, I skip, blanching the spinach when I make palak paneer recipe in instant pot.
Always use fresh and good quality paneer to make the dish. If you want to use homemade paneer, then here is the link to make best malai paneer at home.
You can shallow fry the paneer in little oil or ghee. As I don’t like paneer to be chewy, so as much as possible I try and avoid to fry the paneer. Personally, I love soft and melt in mouth paneer.
Always, soak the paneer in hot water for 20 minutes.This helps in keeping the paneer soft all the time. Actually, I always dip the paneer in water and microwave it for 2 minutes. This step always works best for me.
Skip using garlic and onion, if you want to make no onion no garlic palak paneer.
You can also add little curd (yogurt) to the recipe, if you wish to.
Always, add few drops of lemon juice to the dish. This will help in proper absorption of iron from the spinach.
Be it a dhaba style or restaurant style, the tadka or the tempering always elevates the dish a notch higher . SO, for the best taste, do not skip it.
Do you love smoky palak paneer? Then give the coal smoke or dhungar to the dish at the end.
Making palak paneer in an instant pot? Remember to do the following.
After the IP beeps, quickly release the pressure and press ‘Keep Warm’ button.
Once the cooking is complete, immediately take off the inner pot and place it on the counter or hot plate. This avoids the over cooking of spinach and helps to retain the green colour.
Serving Suggestions for Palak Paneer
I love to serve this delightful curry with parathas, phulkas /Roti or nan. It tastes delicious with pulao, rice or jeera rice. Serve with some onion rings or salad on the side.
How to blanch the spinach for Palak Paneer or any palak recipes?
Whenever I make palak paneer in a pot on gas stove, then I do the blanching of the spinach always. But, when I make it in instant pot, I directly dump the spinach in the IP and cook it. It is so easy to cook into IP, no baby sitting needed.
Many of my dear readers asked me, how to blanch spinach perfectly. It’s not only about the palak paneer, but many other spinach recipes calls for the process of blanching.
SO, here is how to do it perfectly.
First, trim and wash the spinach well. Boil enough water in a pot on stove top. Then, add a pinch of soda into it. Add spinach leaves and let it cook for 2 minutes ONLY. (photo 1)
Immediately, take out the blanched spinach and put it into the bowl with ice cubes and cold water. This step will help to cease the cooking of spinach, and seals its colour and nutrition both. (photo 2)
Let it rest for 1-2 minutes. Now, add strain and add the blanched spinach into the blender. Blend it to a puree. Bright green palak puree is ready to go into the curries. (photo 3 and 4)
How to make Palak Paneer on stove top – Step by Step
To begin with, dip the paneer cubes in hot water for 3 to 4 minutes or microwave it for 2 mins. This will not only enable the paneer to retain softness but also prevents it from getting chewy.
Now, in a heavy bottom pan or kadhai, heat oil. Once the oil heats up, add cumin seeds, allow it to crackle. (photo 1)
Then, add crushed garlic and fry till its golden brown. Now, add broken whole red chilies and green chillies. Fry for another 15 seconds. (photo 2)
Add chopped onions, and saute till it turns translucent. (photo 3)
Now, add chopped tomatoes and saute on high heat for 2 minutes. (photo 4)
Then, add coriander powder, garam masala powder, salt. Mix well. Cover and cook till the tomatoes it becomes very soft. (photo 5)
Turn the heat to high, add blanched and pureed spinach and sauté it for 1 minute. (photo 6)
Now, add paneer, cream, mix and saute for another 1-2 minute. (photo 7)
Add lemon juice, mix and immediately take it off the stove.
For tadka, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small pan. Then, add cumin seeds and let it crackle. (photo 8)
Pour the tadka or tempering over the curry. (photo 9)
For the smoky flavour, go ahead with charcoal dhungar. Place the small bowl or a piece of foil over the curry. Put the live charcoal into it. Pour a teaspoon of ghee or oil over the live coal. (photo 10)
Cover the pot and let it rest for 5-7 minutes. Discard the coal.
Palak paneer is ready to serve.
How to make Palak Paneer in Instant Pot – Step by Step
Switch on the IP and place the inner pot. Heat oil or ghee. Add cumin seeds and chopped garlic, let it crackle. (photo 1)
Now, Add dried red chilies and fry until garlic turns golden and aromatic. (photo 2)
Then, add chopped onions and mix. (photo 3)
Add green chilies and fry until the onions are soft. (photo 4)
Add chopped tomatoes, coriander powder and garam masala powder, fry for 1 minute. (photo 5)
Now, add 1/4 water and deglaze the pot. Then, add spinach. (photo 6)
Now, cancel the ‘sauté’ mode, close the pot with IP lid with vent in sealing position. Set to Manual or Pressure Cook for 1 minute. (photo 7)
Once the IP beeps, quickly release the pressure. Also, press the ‘Keep Warm’ button to avoid overcooking of spinach.
Open the pot. Now, here you can discard the dried chillies or blend it together with everything, I discarded it. (photo 8)
Using the immersion blender, blend everything to a smooth creamy texture. Add cream and paneer cubes, switch on the ‘sauté’ mode and let it simmer on low for 1 minute. Finally, add lemon juice and mix. (photo 9 and 10)
For tadka, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small pan on the stove top. Then, add cumin seeds and let it crackle. Pour the tempering ver the palak paneer, serve. (photo 11 and 12)
For the smoky flavour, go ahead with charcoal dhungar. Place the small bowl or a piece of foil over the curry. Put the live charcoal into it. Pour a teaspoon of ghee or oil over the live coal.
Cover the pot with any tight fitting lid and let it rest for 5-7 minutes. Discard the coal.
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This post has been updated from the archives, was first published in 2013.
Restaurant style Palak Paneer Recipe Card
To blanch the spinach (for stove top method)
- 250 grams Spinach
- Water to blanch spinach
- 1/4 tsp Soda bicarb
- Ice cold water with some ice cubes
For Palak Paneer
- 200 grams Paneer cut in cubes
- 5 tbsp Oil or ghee or butter
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 3-4 Dried red chillies
- 6 cloves Garlic crushed or chopped
- 1 Onion medium size, finely chopped
- 2-3 Green chillies finely chopped
- 1 Tomato medium size, finely chopped
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp Lemon juice
- 1 tsp Garam masala powder
- 2 tbsp Cream plus for garnishing
- Salt as per taste
For palak paneer tadka (tempering)
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp Ghee or Oil or Butter
For dhungar or smoke (optional)
- Live charcoal or lump coal
- Small bowl or a piece of foil.
- 1 tsp Ghee or oil
To make spinach puree
- Trim the stem of the spinach, wash and clean.
- Boil enough of water ina large pot, add soda and spinach.
- Let the spinach blanch for 2 minutes.
- Take the blanched spinach out and immediately put it into ice cold water.
- Put the blanched spinach in a blender and blend it to a puree.
how to make palak paneer on stove top
- Dip the paneer cubes in hot water for 3 to 4 minutes or microwave it for 2 mins. Set it aside.
- In a heavy bottom pan or kadhai, heat oil or ghee.
- Add cumin seeds, allow it to crackle. Add crushed garlic and fry till its golden brown.
- Add broken whole red chilies and green chillies. Fry for 15 seconds.
- Add chopped onions, and saute till it turns translucent.
- Now, add chopped tomatoes and cook for 1 minute on high heat.
- Add coriander powder, garam masala powder, salt. Mix well.
- Cover and cook till the water of the tomatoes dries up and it becomes very soft.
- Increase the heat to high, add pureed spinach and saute it for a minute.
- Add Paneer, cream, mix and saute for another minute.
- Add lemon juice, mix and immediately take it off the stove.
How to make palak paneer in Instant pot
- Switch on the IP and place the inner pot. Heat oil or ghee. Add cumin seeds and chopped garlic, let it crackle.
- Add cumin seeds and chopped garlic, let it crackle.
- Add dried red chilies and fry until garlic turns golden and aromatic.
- Add chopped onions and mix. Add green chilies and fry until soft.
- Add chopped tomatoes, coriander powder and garam masala powder, fry for 1 minute.
- Now, add 1/4 water and deglaze the pot. Add spinach.
- Cancel the 'sauté' mode, close the pot with IP lid with vent in sealing position. Set to Manual or Pressure Cook for 1 minute.
- Once the IP beeps, quickly release the pressure manually.
- Also, press the 'Keep Warm' button to avoid overcooking of spinach.
- Discard the whole red chilies or you may leave it, if you wish to.
- Using the immersion blender, blend everything to a smooth creamy texture.
- Add cream and paneer cubes, switch on the 'sauté' mode and let it simmer on low for 1 minute
To give tadka or tempering (optional)
- Heat 1 tablepsoon of oil in a small pan. Add cumin seeds and allow it to crackle.
- Pour the tadka over the Palak Paneer
- Dish out and garnish with cream. Serve.
To give smoke or dhungar to palak paneer (optional)
- Burn a small piece of charcoal or lump coal on stove top until red hot. (be careful and use tongs while burning it)
- Then, with the help of tongs, carefully place the live charcoal over the foil or in the bowl. Top it with 1/2 teaspoon of ghee and immediately close the lid.
- Now, place a small bowl or small pieces aluminium foil on the palak paneer curry.
- With lid closed, leave the spinach paneer gravy undisturbed for 5-7 minutes to infuse the dhungar well.