Palak Paneer

This spinach dish is popular throughout the world but originated in the Punjabi region of northern India. Making paneer from scratch is[ key-it's much easier than you would think. And using fresh spinach is essential for flavor and to achieve that emerald green color.]

Total Time:
2 hr 35 min
40 min
1 hr 5 min
50 min

6 to 8 servings

  • 8 cups whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds washed regular (not baby) spinach leaves
  • 2 small or 1 large tomato (8 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 -inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 serrano chile, minced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • Serving suggestion: steamed basmati rice or Indian flatbread
  • Special equipment: cheesecloth

  • Make paneer: Line a colander with a triple-layer of dampened cheesecloth, leaving a 2- to 3-inch overhang. Place the colander in the sink. Heat the milk in a large non-reactive saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently to make sure the milk doesn't scorch on the bottom, until the milk comes to a simmer. Turn off the heat and gently stir in 3 tablespoons lemon juice. The milk should start separating into solid curds and a yellowish watery whey. If it doesn't, add a little more lemon juice. Let sit for about 5 minutes in the pot to continue separating, then gently pour into the cheesecloth-lined colander. (If the curds are still very small after 5 minutes then reheat the milk mixture over medium heat and simmer to increase the curd separation).

  • Rinse briefly with cold water to remove any lemon flavor. Gather up the sides of the cheesecloth, twist into a ball, and squeeze to wring out as much liquid as possible. Open up the cheesecloth, and mix 1/4 teaspoon salt evenly into the cheese curds. Squeeze into a ball again and wring out any remaining moisture. Flatten the cheesecloth ball into a 3/4-inch thick disc and place on a plate. Weigh down with another plate topped with a heavy item such as a large can. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight, then carefully cut the paneer into 3/4-inch cubes.

  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. In batches, blanch the spinach for about 1 minute in the boiling water and quickly transfer with a spider or slotted spoon to the ice water. Drain the cooked spinach. Place all of it in a blender and puree until mostly but not completely smooth. Reserve.

  • Rinse the blender carafe and puree the tomatoes; reserve. Rinse the carafe again and puree the garlic and ginger with 1/4 cup water; reserve.

  • Line a plate with paper towels. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the paneer cubes and brown well on 2 to 3 sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove to the lined plate and reserve.

  • Add another 2 tablespoons ghee to the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and stir until the seeds start to darken and smell toasted, 10 to 30 seconds. Add the serrano chile, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onion is dark brown and soft, about 10 minutes. Turn down the heat if the onion starts to burn.

  • Add the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, cayenne, and half the garam masala. Stir for about 2 minutes, then add the tomato puree, stirring continuously, until the mixture starts to look dry, about 6 minutes. Add the spinach puree, sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the remaining garam masala. (The mixture will be quite thick.) Simmer for 8 minutes, then stir in the heavy cream and remaining 2 tablespoons ghee. Fold in the browned paneer cubes and simmer to warm the paneer through and to thicken the heavy cream, an additional 4 minutes.

  • Serve with steamed basmati rice or Indian flatbread and lemon wedges on the side.

  • Copyright 2016 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved.

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