It’s no secret I love all things spinach – but this Palak Paneer is probably my favourite way to use spinach, which is really saying something! If you don’t know what Palak Paneer is, in Hindi Palak means Spinach and Paneer is a soft, non-melting, vegetarian cheese. The paneer cubes are sautéed until just slightly crispy on the outside, and then mixed into a nutrient-packed creamy sauce made with spinach, tomatoes, onions, and of course some obligatory spices.
This recipe only takes an incredible 30 minutes to make and follows a really basic method. There’s no blanching of the spinach, no long simmering of the curry, and all you’ll need to make it is a basic pan of your choice and a cheap immersion blender. It really is that simple.
The end result is Palak Paneer which is rich and creamy – without being ‘too much‘. You can easily eat a full portion and then some! The spinach, which if cooked incorrectly can become bitter, is robust and fresh. There is a gentle and addictive spice from the combined flavour notes of fresh green chillis and red chilli powder. Nutmeg brings a sweet nuttiness which perfectly compliments the paneer, and sautéed garlic runs all through the sauce which is peppered with notes of warming spice and an overall wash of creamy butteriness from the ghee. Delicious.
How can you make Palak Paneer Vegan?
Palak Paneer is surprisingly really easy to make Vegan. The most important aspect is of course replacing the Paneer. For this, extra-firm tofu is an excellent stand in. You can buy this at most grocery stores or online – or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can easily make your own from just 2 ingredients. Make sure you use extra-firm tofu, as this will give us the texture which is most similar to paneer. Follow the recipe and crisp it up slightly before cooking for ultimate deliciousness.
For the cream, there are several options. First, you can leave it out. I do this sometimes for a different taste – but you run the risk of the Palak Paneer being slightly bitter as there isn’t any creaminess to balance out the spinach. Your other option is to use a dairy-free cream like Elmlea Plant Based (or the most available alternative in your country). Another popular option is coconut cream. Additionally, you can also make your own cream by soaking cashews and then blending into a paste.
Can you use Frozen or Tinned Spinach for Palak Paneer?
I love using fresh spinach in my Palak Paneer. Wherever possible I try to use fresh vegetables – the flavour really is unbeatable and leafy greens are generally very budget friendly. However, both tinned spinach and frozen spinach are good options here. Just be sure to defrost the frozen spinach and squeeze out excess water before use – and be aware that there may be some colour differences.
What is the difference between Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer?
In the UK, Palak Paneer, Saag Paneer, and Paneer Saagwala are likely to all mean the same thing. Unfortunately in BIR (British Indian Restaurant) cooking, there isn’t usually a distinction between ‘Saag’ and ‘Palak’.
However, in India ‘Palak’ refers specifically to Spinach. Therefore any recipe you see with the word ‘Palak’ will be made with spinach greens only. ‘Saag’ on the other hand refers to a dish which uses a combination or mix of leafy greens – this can include things like spinach, mustard leaves and fenugreek, along with many others. British Indian families even use things like kale or spring greens in Saag.
The recipe which I’m sharing with you today uses only spinach, and so is named as Palak Paneer.
This Recipe Is…
- Vegetarian, Soy Free, Gluten Free and Nut Free
- Authentic, just as you would eat it in India
- Thick and Creamy
- Packed full of nutrients and iron
- Easy for anyone to cook
- Healthy and delicious!
How to Serve Palak Paneer?
Palak Paneer tastes amazing served with Garlic & Coriander Naan. The naan is perfect for scooping up the thick and creamy curry and the extra hit of garlic flavour is just sensational. However, you could also serve this curry with parathas or even chapatis.
If you don’t want to have bread, consider making a simple Jeera Rice on the side. You could even serve it with simple steamed rice and the big, bold flavours of this Palak Paneer would sing.