Shortcut Palak Paneer

This super simplified version of a famous northern Indian Punjabi dish cooks all in one pan and relies on premade paneer and frozen spinach as shortcuts. While it's not quite like the authentic version, it is still packed with flavor and quite satisfying. We also found that frying queso fresco cubes made for a nice, saltier alternative to packaged paneer, which is sometimes hard to find.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 40 min
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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4 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 ounces store-bought paneer or queso fresco, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 medium yellow onion, diced small

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 cloves garlic, finely grated

2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated

3/4 teaspoon curry powder

3/4 teaspoon garam masala

1 large tomato, about 8 ounces, halved and grated on the large holes of a box grater

1 large tomato, about 8 ounces, halved and grated on the large holes of a box grater 

2 boxes (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained

2/3 cup heavy cream

Serving suggestion: steamed basmati rice or Indian flatbread


  1. Line a plate with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter stops foaming, add the paneer cubes and brown well on 2 sides, about 4 minutes total. Remove to the lined plate and reserve. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.
  2. Have a lid nearby for the skillet. Add another 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is browned and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder and garam masala and stir together, 1 minute. Add the grated tomato and stir for another minute. Add the chopped spinach, heavy cream, 1/4 cup water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low, 8 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon butter and carefully fold in the paneer cubes. Simmer for an additional 2 minutes to warm the paneer through.
  3. Serve with steamed basmati rice or Indian flatbread.