Palak Paneer is an Indian spinach curry made with soft, unripened farmer’s cheese. I ordered palak paneer at Indian restaurants for many years thinking I was eating tofu. (If you are avoiding dairy, tofu can easily be substituted in this recipe). I love palak paneer, but had never tried making it at home – until yesterday. This is the third recipe I am sharing from the Hollyhock Garden to Table cookbook this month. I adapted it slightly and am happy to report it was a total success.
Making farmer’s cheese (paneer) sounds daunting, but it is actually quite simple. Bring whole milk to a boil, stir in lemon juice until the milk curdles, strain in cheesecloth for 1 hour and voila – fresh farmer’s cheese!
The flavors in this recipe are bright and intense. If you love the strong flavors in homemade curry, this recipe is for you. The paneer is crispy on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside. And, there is plenty of extra sauce – enough to use in a second meal as a simmer sauce for chicken or fish.
I used a food processor, but a blender will give a smoother, more uniform consistency.
Love curry? You might like these recipes, too!
- FOR THE PANEER
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- FOR THE SPINACH CURRY
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, divided
- ½ lb. paneer
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced into half moons
- pinch of salt
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, most of the juice drained off
- 2 tsp. coriander
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- ¼ tsp. chili flakes
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- ¾ cup light coconut milk
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- ½ tsp. sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- MAKE THE PANEER:
- Line a strainer with 4 layers of cheesecloth and place it over a bowl.
- In a medium, heavy bottomed pot, bring the milk to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching.
- Once the milk boils, remove from heat and stir in the 2 Tbsp. lemon juice.
- Stir constantly for about 2 minutes until the milk curdles.
- Pour into the lined strainer and let drain for 1 hour. Discard the whey (liquid drained into the bowl) and press the curds in the cheesecloth into a flat circle.
- Cut into 1" cubes. (The cheese may be slightly crumbly. Don't worry).
- You should have approximately 8 oz. of paneer.
- MAKE THE SPINACH CURRY:
- Heat 1 Tbsp. coconut oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the paneer and cook until golden on all sides.
- Remove to a paper towel and set aside.
- In a food processor or blender, combine the ginger, tomatoes and garlic. Blend into a smooth paste. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
- Add the spinach and coconut milk to the blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. coconut oil in a medium, heavy bottomed pot.
- Add the onions and sauté until very soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato puree, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili flakes.
- Simmer on low for 5 minutes to combine the flavors.
- Add the spinach mixture and the paneer and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Season with the sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.