A common vegetarian dish in India is the palak paneer which consists of paneer (Indian cheese) in a silky, decadent spinach sauce. In north India, palak paneer is a common dish. In Indian homes, it’s one of the most often prepared paneer dishes. In comparison to, say, paneer butter masala or shahi paneer, I would say that it was prepared far more regularly in my home.

Perhaps because it was regarded as healthier than the other creamy paneer varieties. No matter the reason, we were always thrilled when mom made it!

My mother taught me how to make this delectable palak paneer from a family recipe. I’m thrilled to be able to share this recipe with you because she has been preparing it for our family for years. I love this recipe because it is so easy to follow. Because there aren’t any other spices, the flavour of the spinach is highlighted. The chunks of paneer are wonderfully complemented by the creamy spinach sauce, which contains a hint of chilli and garlic to enhance the flavour and make it more fascinating. A small amount of cream added toward the end brings everything together beautifully. I fry the paneer in ghee to give it some texture and add a layer of flavour.


Although the names saag aloo and palak paneer are sometimes used synonymously, they refer to two distinct dishes. Recently I ate saag aloo for the first time, a puréed spinach and potato dish that I believe was influenced by or descended from palak paneer. I’ll be honest—I didn’t like it all that much. I was surprised that potato was used in place of paneer, and the name confused me a bit because “saag” had always connoted sarson, or mustard leaves.  The saag aloo I tried also tasted much different from the palak paneer I grew up eating; the restaurants added so much more to the spinach sauce—onion, garam spice, etc.—that it completely transformed the nature of the dish. It’s pretty dissimilar to palak paneer, however it was still wonderful to eat.


Preparing palak paneer


The cooking process is a pretty simple one: I simply simmer the spinach leaves in a covered pot with a little water until they wilt, then I purée them in a blender. In a different pan, I fry the paneer in some oil. After removing the paneer from the pan, I heat some oil in the same pan with whole mustard and cumin seeds until the seeds begin to pop. At that point, I add some minced garlic.

I add the purée to the pan, season it with salt and chilli pepper, stir in the fried paneer and a small amount of cream, and serve it with a hot flatbread like chapati, roti, naan, or parathas.



  • 250g curly spinach leaves
  • 3 tablespoons of neutral-flavored oil, like sunflower, divided
  • 250g paneer, cut into small rectangles
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) heavy cream



  1. In a 3-quart saucier over high heat, add spinach and 1/2 cup (120ml) water. Water should be brought to a boil, then the spinach should be covered and cooked for five minutes on medium-low heat. In a countertop blender, add the contents of the pan and blend on high for about a minute, or until fully smooth. Separate the purée.
  2. With a fresh kitchen towel or paper towel, wipe out the saucier. The saucier should be heated to shimmering over medium-high heat after adding 2 teaspoons of oil. Cook the first turn of half of the paneer pieces for about two minutes, or until browned. Repeat with additional paneer pieces after transferring the first one to a platter. Cook cumin and mustard seeds in the remaining tablespoon of oil for about 30 seconds, or until the seeds start to explode. For about 30 seconds, add the garlic, stir, and heat until the garlic is fragrant and the chunks begin to turn colour.
  3. Pour in the spinach purée, season with salt and chili powder, and stir to combine. Stir in the cooked paneer and cream, and serve immediately.


By Elijah Hughes

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