Palak paneer is one of the most beloved Indian recipes of all time. Packed with spice, spinach, and pressed fresh cheese that squeaks deliciously with every bite, palak paneer is a gluten-free dish packed with flavor and the mild heat of garlic and chili peppers.
What is Palak Panir?
Palak paneer is a North Indian vegetarian curry originating from the Punjab region. The dish features mashed spinach (palak means spinach in Hindi) and fresh cheese, with an aromatic blend of spices including ginger, garlic and garam masala. Palak paneer is also sometimes called saag paneer. Palak paneer is mostly served with basmati rice, naan bread, or both.
What is Paneer?
Paneer is a fresh, unaged, farmhouse-style cheese made by draining fresh curds (usually formed with an acid like lemon juice) and weighing them down for a few hours into a compact cheese, which then retains its shape. Unlike many types of cheese, paneer does not melt when cubed and cooked. It has a pleasant, mild character and takes on the flavors of the surrounding curry wonderfully.
Is Palak Paneer vegan?
Traditional palak paneer contains dairy products in the form of ghee (clarified butter), heavy cream and paneer. However, you can easily make your palak paneer vegan with a few simple substitutions.
- Replace ghee with olive oil. Although olive oil does not impart the same richness as ghee or clarified butter, it is a good substitute in this dish.
- Replace heavy cream with coconut milk. Coconut milk offers the same creamy finish as heavy cream. Avoid other dairy-free alternatives like nut milk, which are too runny for palak paneer.
- Replace paneer with tofu. Make sure the tofu is slightly firm. Too firm, and the tofu will be dry and crumbly; you want it to absorb the spice profile of the dish. Too soft or silky, it may lose too much of its texture.
Can you make palak paneer with cottage cheese?
While you could technically substitute cottage cheese for paneer in palak paneer, the overall effect won’t be the same since the cottage cheese is loose instead of firm and will disperse evenly throughout the spinach sauce.
Tips for making the perfect palak paneer
- Blanch the spinach before puréeing it. Although some people swear by fresh spinach, blanching your spinach helps give palak paneer a vibrant green hue, and blanched spinach also gives spinach with a puree a creamier consistency.
- Add the dried fenugreek. Also known as Kasuri methi, dried fenugreek gives palak paneer a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that pairs well with fresh cheese. Fenugreek leaves are often used as an herb or seasoning in Indian cuisine, but it is not a requirement.
- But only use the leaves. If you include Kasuri methi in your palak paneer, use dried leaves rather than the seeds or ground powder found in most grocery stores. Fenugreek leaves are less bitter than the seeds and won’t overpower the spinach.
Pay a visit to Vallée Du Kashmir if you are looking for an Indian restaurant in Paris. We proudly serve traditional Indian cuisine at economical rates.