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30 Minute Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer with basmati rice

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Are you… afraid of Indian food? Some people are afraid of Indian food. Maybe you don’t like curry. Or worse, you think all Indian food is curry!!! It is not. Palak Paneer doesn’t even have ANY curry in it. If you have absolutely no idea what this dish is, that’s okay. Palak Paneer is Indian cheese with a spinach sauce. If you’ve never tried paneer, I’d describe its flavor similar to fresh mozzarella with the texture of Wisconsin cheese curds packed into a block. Also, it doesn’t melt. You can get it at Indian markets, maybe the regular grocery store, and Costco! If you can’t find paneer or don’t eat dairy, you can use extra firm tofu! Or chicken! Or garbanzo beans! The possibilities are endless.

I cannot get over how EASY this recipe is. Like, so so easy. If you’ve never made Indian food before, this is a GREAT first recipe to try. You can even be super sloppy with your chopping because it’s all going to be pureed anyway. And you can make it faster than you could order Indian for delivery! All you need is a blender and sauté pan.

First, start the rice. Traditionally, Indian food uses basmati rice. I am notoriously bad at making rice (somehow it always burns or is mushy or turns into like a teeny serving of rice when I tried to make 4 servings… i dont know why!!!!) but I have had success with this recipe/method! You’ll put 2 cups basmati rice into the pot and cover with an inch of water. Run your fingers through the rice in circular and figure eight motions. We do this to get rid of extra starch so that our rice is fluffy and more, like… defined as separate grains of rice instead of rice mush. Drain off the cloudy water and do this 4 times until water is clear. It never gets totally clear for me but that’s okay, as long as it’s WAY clearer than at the beginning. Drain all water, then add 4 cups of new water, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low for 15–20 minutes. Turn off heat, fluff with a fork, and leave covered until the Palak Paneer is ready! 

For the Palak Paneer, you’ll puree a can of diced tomatoes and 5 cups of fresh spinach in the blender. A lot of recipes blanch the spinach first, but I like to use it fresh because there’s less chance of cooking the nutrients out (because we will cook it later for a bit). Then, you’ll sauté roughly chopped onion, jalapeño, and ginger in a sauté pan, adding garlic, yummy spices, and salt halfway through so they don’t get burnt. When those veggies are all browned and onion is turning translucent, you’ll add that mixture along with a splash of apple cider vinegar to the blender and puree it all up. Once pureed, add the sauce back into the sauté pan on low heat, along with paneer chunks and half & half, and cook for about 10 minutes so that the paneer softens a bit and the flavors develop. When that’s heated through, you’re ready to eat!

Palak Paneer with basmati rice

I developed this recipe by researching Aarti Party by Aarti Sequeira, this recipe by Dassana Amit, and this recipe by Sandhya Hariharan.

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Palak Paneer with basmati rice

30 Minute Palak Paneer

  • Author: Megan B-L
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree

Description

Indian cheese chunks in a flavorful, lightly creamy spinach sauce, served with basmati rice. So fast and so easy!


Ingredients

Scale

Palak Paneer

  • 5 cups fresh spinach, packed
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeño, roughly chopped (see Notes)
  • ½ inch ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¾ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1216 ounces paneer, chopped into ~½-inch squares
  • ¼ cup half & half

Basmati Rice

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. First, start the rice. Add basmati rice to the pot and cover with an inch of water. Run your fingers through the rice in circular and figure eight motions. (We’re getting rid of extra starch here.) Drain cloudy water. Do this 4 times until water is clear (or mostly clear). Drain. Add 4 cups water, butter, and salt, and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low for 15–20 minutes. Turn off heat, fluff with a fork, and leave covered until you’re ready to eat. 
  2. While rice is cooking, make the sauce. Add tomatoes & spinach to a blender & puree. You may have to do this in segments if you have an older blender.
  3. Sauté jalapeño, ginger, and onion in a sauté pan for 8-10 minutes. Halfway through, add the garlic and spices, including the salt.
  4. Transfer sautéed ingredients to the blender, adding apple cider vinegar. Blend with tomato/spinach puree until it is smooth.
  5. Return puree to sauté pan on medium low. Add the paneer and half & half, mix until all is combined.
  6. Heat on low for 10 minutes to let paneer warm and flavors develop.
  7. Serve rice and palak paneer together—enjoy!


Notes

  • The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products that could help you make this recipe!
  • About the jalapeño—the ribs (light part inside) and seeds are what makes a jalapeño spicy. If you want more spice, leave the ribs intact and include some seeds. If you want a more mild dish, remove both. 
  • Easily make this vegan by subbing extra firm tofu or garbanzo beans for paneer and coconut cream for half & half!
  • Chunks of cooked chicken could also be a good sub for paneer. 

Keywords: indian, spinach, paneer, naan

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