Saag Paneer/Palak Paneer/Cottage cheese in spinach gravy

Paneer, also known as cottage cheese, is probably one of the most popular veg items in Indian cuisine. Though I have come across people who do not like it, the number has been very few. Personally it is one of my favorites! I can give up chicken for the sake of paneer. I give the entire credit to my friend Appy (Arpita) for this recipe and all the other paneer recipes that she shared with me. It has made mine and BBC’s life more palatable than what it was!

There are various rich and simple recipes for paneer or cottage cheese, but this one is an exclusive of the North Indian cuisine. It is cooked in a creamy saag/palak gravy and can be enjoyed with mainly roti, paratha or naan etc.

Note: I had special instructions from my friend to cook the spices and spinach for definite period of time (as mentioned below) and I religiously followed it every time I prepared this dish. It has never betrayed me and I hope it will not do so to you as well!

Ingredients:

  • Paneer – 250 gms
  • Palak/Spinach -400 gms
  • Onions, finely chopped – 2 medium
  • Ginger, grated or chopped – 1 tsp
  • Garlic, grated or chopped – 2 tsp
  • Tomato, finely chopped or pureed – 1 large or 2 medium
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • Chilli powder – to taste
  • Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Garam Masala powder – 1 tsp
  • Kasoori methi – 2 tsp (heaped)
  • Whipping Cream – 5 tbsp or to taste
  • Butter/Ghee – 1 tbsp or to taste (optional)
  • Oil – 2-3 tbsp

Method:

  • De-stem the spinach leaves, wash thoroughly and drain.
  • In a pot of boiling water add the drained leaves and let it boil for 2 mins and cover it with a lid. Put it off the flame and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  • Drain the leaves, wash them with cool water. Squeeze out excess water and let it cool.
  • Once cooled, blend the leaves into a fine paste and keep aside.
  • Cube the paneer into desired size (1 inch by 1/2 inch) and boil it in water for 2 minutes. This is mainly done if the paneer has been refrigerated so that it becomes a little soft. If the paneer is already soft omit boiling it in water.
  • In a pan, add 1 tbsp oil and lightly fry the paneer pieces for a minute or two till they get a golden tinge. Do not fry for too long. Soak the fried pieces in water at room temperature and keep aside.
  • In the pan, add more oil, fry the chopped onions. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add  ginger and garlic. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and mix well. Let it cook for 15 minutes stirring in between. Sprinkle some water if the mixture starts drying up.
  • Add turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder and mix well. cover and cook for another 15 minutes stirring in between. Sprinkle some water if the mixture starts drying up.
  • Add the spinach paste, mix well. Add little water if required. Cover and cook again for 20 minutes so that the spinach is well mixed with the spices.
  • Take out the paneer pieces from water and add to the mixture in the pan. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add Kasoori methi and cream and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add butter or ghee if desired and let it simmer.
  • Serve it hot!

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