Of all the Indian food dishes we love, nothing quite matches the comforting taste of Palak/Saag Paneer with some tender basmati rice. What a perfect day to make this deliciously green dish than on St. Patty’s Day! This Palak Paneer recipe takes about an hour to make, but when you’re finished there’s tons of leftovers that heat up easily.
Don’t be green with envy, you can make your own fresh paneer too!
Palak Paneer is basically a spicy version of French Creamed Spinach, AND you get the added bonus of delicious bits of paneer throughout the dish! I made my own paneer, which was actually quite easy to do and MUCH better than the paneer you can buy in the store, or even get at American Indian restaurants. It melts in your mouth sim ilar to fresh mozzarella and is wonderfully creamy. But if you don’t have the time, you can substitute cream cheese or tofu instead of homemade or store bought paneer.
Palak Paneer is a great dish for little ones to try new green things, as you can pack it full of creamy delciousness and it still has all the health benefits of spinach. This recipe also includes tomato, just another opportunity to get some veggies in.
The cream cheese in this recipe adds a wonderful creaminess that kids love, but if you’re opting for a healthier version, just leave it out or substitute for a few tablespoons of cream or coconut cream. We actually added some coconut cream to this recipe in addition to the cream cheese and it had a lovely layer of sweetness because of it.
Palak Paneer Recipe
- 16 oz spinach
- 1 cup paneer cubes (or cream cheese or tofu)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 can diced tomatoes/sauce
- 1 package cream cheese
- 2 garlic cloves
- oil or butter
Spices: These are recommendations, and should be adjusted for you and your little ones’ taste buds. If you’re not sure how they will take to the spices, just remember that it’s always better to start out with smaller quantities and then add on as you go. Indian spices are warmer than those you can expect in spicy Mexican food, which tend to be much “hotter” in taste, and some kids might take better to Indian spices.
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. cloves
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. salt
Prep: Boil a large pot of water and blanch the spinach for about 3 minutes, strain and set aside to cool. Once cool, puree in a blender. In the meantime, pan fry the paneer in coconut oil and set aside.
Heat a large pan with coconut oil, add the onion and cook until translucent. Add in garlic and cook for another minute before adding the tomato and spices. Add half a cup of water and cook until the mixture becomes thick again. Turn off the heat and let cool enough to pour the mixture into a blender and make it creamy. This step is optional, but if you don’t want onion bits it will smooth the entire mixture out. Once pureed, pour back into the pan and add the pureed spinach and the cream cheese until it melts. Once the mixture is smooth, add in the paneer and stir to combine and bring up to heat.
Homemade Paneer Recipe
This is SO much simpler than we expected, and in ouropinion is definitely worth the extra little bit of effort for some fresh paneer to add to your spinach sauce. This quantity will leave a little extra to snack on too, paneer cheese is delicious fresh with just a little salt and lime juice
- 1 gallon whole, non-UHT, milk
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- cheese cloth & strainer
Yes, that’s all it takes! In a large saucepan, bring the milk to just below a boil. This takes about ten minutes and you’ll know it’s at that point when you can see soft simmering bubbles, it gets foamy, and is steaming. If you have a candy thermometer, this is at about 200 degrees. Be careful not to overheat and scald the milk. Once it’s at temp, turn off the heat, and stir in the lemon juice. Cover and let the milk curdle for 10-20 minutes. It should be chunky and a watery yellow. Line your strainer with a cheese cloth in the sink and strain out the curds. Make sure most of the liquid is out of the cloth and flatten the bundle on a plate. Cover with another plate and weigh down for 20 minutes to an hour to get excess liquid out.