Palak Paneer | Palak Tofu – Easy weeknight recipe!

November 12, 2021 (Last Updated: March 1, 2022)

Palak Paneer is HANDS DOWN my favourite way to eat paneer. It is so flavourful with spinach, a hint of garlic and like all good things – it is really simple to make! This recipe can easily be made vegan with tofu and is gluten free!

75 plates of Palak Paneer have been ‘ordered’ across at least 6 countries in this 5 years of marriage.I just measured the length of my marriage in units of palak paneer. This doesn’t include the bad, half decent, average and the absolutely OMG roti dipping awesome ones like this I make at home at least twice a month!

I thought long and hard before sharing a recipe for this. I mean, doesn’t every single noteworthy Indian blog already have a recipe? Are we all not experts in making Palak Paneer already? BUT, when I posted this picture on Instagram, quite a few asked! Turns out, there is STILL space in this Internet for a Palak Paneer recipe. Oh yay.

Now, I do not promise this to be a RESTAURANT style dish. If you want one of those, you should order in! However, this is a very tasty, 20 minutes weeknight dinner-friendly recipe that can very easily be dressed up to become a fancy restaurant-style one. Like all of us who put that jacket on before a zoom meeting (don’t hate me, I promise to stop my bad jokes).

There are a FEW tips for you to wing this in 20 minutes.

  • YOU absolutely need to thaw the paneer beforehand. It is imperative because we want SOFT spongy paneer. To do this, remove the paneer from freezer the previous day and move to the fridge. About 30 minutes ( or upto 2 hours) before making, cut paneer into 1 inch cubes and immerse in HOT boiling water. This will make the paneer soft to absorb the gravy as we do not cook it much in this recipe.
  • YOU should own a blender/immersion blender/mixie thing and if you have a bad one, you must sieve the spinach mixture.
  • I know I am cutting it close by saying you should chop an onion, and one tomato in 5 minutes, but it is doable friends. OR , you may take 30 minutes. Life will still be delicious because you will have a big bowl of Palak Paneer.

Additional request, if I may.

  • Ideally, this dish is best made with ghee, paneer and (optionally) cream. So, if you are not vegan, then try to make it the way it is meant to be.

Palak Paneer | Palak Tofu

Make this delicious and flavourful palak paneer/tofu in under 30 minutes. It is simple, takes minimal spices and is a great weeknight option. You can dress it up with cream or cashews for a rich version too!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword 30 minute meals, easy meals, gluten free, palak paneer, paneer, tofu, weeknight meals
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3

Ingredients

For the spinach puree

  • 1 bunch spinach approximately 3 cups of chopped and cleaned spinach.
  • 2-4 green chillies
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger

For the palak paneer gravy

  • 1 tbsp ghee/vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ¾ cup onion finely chopped
  • ½ cup tomatoes deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp kasoori methi
  • salt to taste
  • ¾ cup fresh paneer cubes

For the tadka

  • 2 tsp ghee
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 bydagi/kashmiri chillies
  • 3-4 cloves garlic cloves sliced thin/minced fine I like biting into garlic pieces, so slice it. Mincing fine is great too as it will mix well into the gravy.

Optional garnish

  • 2-3 tbsp fresh cream

Instructions

  • Bring a pot of water to boil, about 4-5 cups. Add cleaned spinach leaves and boil it for 2-3 minutes. The leaves will wilt but will be bright green.
    Tip – Do not add spinach to cold water and bring it to a boil. This way, it will cook longer and the colour will become dull.
  • Remove the leaves and immediately drop them in cold water. (use water for plants!)
  • Now, to a pan add ghee and cumin seeds. Add chopped onions and saute until it becomes golden brown. This will take about 3 minutes on low to medium flame.
  • So, in the meantime – squeeze all the water off the spinach, add chilli and ginger. Then, grind it into a SMOOTH puree.
    Tip – sieve this puree if it is not smooth. Note, we only add green chillies for spice. So, add as spicy as you like your food to be.
  • Back to the onions, now add tomatoes and saute again for 3-4 minutes. Add a little salt so the tomatoes can soften quickly.
    Tip – deseed tomatoes to avoid excess seeds and water in the gravy.
  • Once the tomatoes have softened, add the coriander powder followed by the palak puree. Mix well, check salt and add if required. Note that spinach contains 'salt', so check before adding.
  • Reduce flame to low and after a couple of minutes, add in the garam masala and the kasoori methi. Let it simmer for a few minutes.
    Tip – It is important to not COOK this gravy for a long time. Ideally, low flame 2-3 minutes is enough.
  • Finally, add paneer and mix it into the gravy. Ensure flame is in low.
    Tip – The gravy is cooked, paneer will absorb the flavours in the resting time. There is no need to cook the gravy for long after adding paneer. Essentially, LESS cooking after adding greens is the key.
  • Make the tadka – in some ghee, add cumin, red chillies and garlic. Saute in a low flame until the garlic is fully browned. Add this to the palak paneer and turn the flame off. Keep closed for a few minutes and serve.
  • Just at the end, some cream can be added. I usually DO NOT do this – but it looks and tastes amazing if you do. The consistency of the gravy is your choice. I prefer it on the thicker side to be able scoop rotis with. If adding cream, be mindful that it will thin the gravy.

Notes

Palak Tofu
To make this recipe vegan, make the following changes.
  • Use vegetable oil instead of ghee.
  • Use firm tofu – to prepare the tofu, chop it into 1 inch cubes and add some salt, garam masala and a dash of chilli powder. In some oil, saute the tofu until it is crisp. Add it in the last stage of cooking and mix well before serving.
  • For  a rich vegan version – soak 2 tbsp cashews in water for 20 minutes. Grind to a smooth puree and add in the end to the gravy.
Restaurant Style Palak Paneer
This is a very tasty, weeknight dinner, home style preparation that does not taste very ‘masala-ey’, so I have used very minimal spices
  • For a very ‘restaurant’ style Palak Paneer – do not skip the cream and cook the whole dish in butter or ghee.  
  • If you like your food more masala-ish, add about 1/2 tsp more garam masala.
  • Just before serving, drizzle some cream on the top and add some ginger juliennes. 
How to keep Palak Paneer  ‘green’
I follow three, or may be four key tips to keep it bright and vibrant green.
  • DO not cook the spinach for more than 2 minutes. Set a timer if required. Move it to cold water immediately.
  • DO not use red chilli powder. It will dull the green colour. All spice is only from chillies.
  • Cook only for a short while after adding the spinach gravy, in a low flame. If it cooks for ten minutes, the colour will change.
  • Finally, remember that your reference for ‘light green’ is the restaurant one laden with cream. Adding that will lighten the dish certainly. Home versions need to be easy, healthy and doable and not necessarily look straight out of a menu. 
Happy cooking!
 

Using frozen spinach

Frozen spinach is already blanched! So, thaw it to room temperature and directly grind adding ginger and chilies.

Using other greens

If you use other greens, it won’t be a ‘palak’ paneer. I have tried with a mix of collard greens, kale, and spinach. However, I think Palak works best. If you get it, I recommend using baby spinach. It is so delicious!

You will also like these..

Please leave a comment below if you made this recipe, have any questions or thoughts! Your comment will help me learn more about your preferences and will help other readers.

Love this post? Here are some links if you would like to share it with your friends:

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating