palak paneer – indian restaurant style spinach curry

Palak paneer is a North Indian spinach and cheese curry that is sure to satisfy vegetarians and omnivores alike. Delicate paneer in a rich and flavourful sauce.

This is not the creamy bright green version. This is palak paneer done restaurant style. Big, bold Indian curry. Hit you over the head flavours. Not subtle. Not at all. If you are looking for the bright green version this is not it.

Restaurant style. That’s what this palak paneer is about. Made like they do in Indian restaurants. Using  the tricks and techniques they use. 

It may seem a little different to you. But it’s how they crank out your dinner in 10 minutes. And once you get this style down you can make anything they can. Seriously.

Close-up of a spoonful of palak paneer.

Frozen spinach for restaurant style palak paneer

I’m not a fan of frozen vegetables. Corn and peas I can put up with. I really can’t stand anything else. Except frozen spinach in restaurant style curries. It works. I don’t know why. But it works.

I’m all about fresh. Fresh scratch cooking. So telling you to use frozen spinach is not something I do lightly. But restaurants do it. And it is tasty. I use fresh spinach in a lot of recipes. But here frozen is best.

But you have to drain the thawed spinach. Get rid of the water. Or it’s overpowering. Just give it a squeeze and it’s good to go.

Table scene with dal and parathas from above.

Paneer is the perfect cheese for curry

Cheese curry. That just sounds odd. I know. Who in their right mind would want that? Turns out I do. And probably so do you.

Think about India. They are something like 30 percent vegetarian. And the other 70 percent have some vegetarian tendencies. So they know vegetarian. Probably better than any other country in the world.

And they came up with paneer. It works. It doesn’t really melt. It’s not like mozzarella. It holds together kind of like tofu. 

And it’s bland like tofu. It slides in. Not assertive. A supporting character that takes on the flavours of the curry. Like chicken breast. It’s there. You like it. But it’s more about texture than flavour. 

Palak paneer, dal and parathas from the front.

Enjoy palak paneer like you would any other curry

If you are vegetarian this is obvious. But if you aren’t maybe not so much. This is a curry. Like any other curry. Except there’s paneer instead of a different protein. So enjoy it like you would any other curry.

I like it best with parathas. But I love parathas so that’s no surprise. A big spoonful of palak paneer on a bit of Indian flat bread. So good.

You can serve it with rice as well. Along with a nice lentil dish. That’s good living too. 

However you serve it palak paneer is sure to please.

Palak paneer in an Indian bowl from above.
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5 from 7 votes

palak paneer

Palak paneer is a delicious Indian spinach and cheese curry
Course Main
Cuisine Indian
Keyword palak paneer
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 667kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen

Ingredients

The spice mix

  • 2 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix – recipe link below
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

palak paneer

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp onion – finely diced
  • 2 tbsp green chili – seeded and finely diced
  • 3 tbsp cilantro leaves and stems – finely diced
  • 4 oz frozen spinach – the finely diced stuff
  • 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste – recipe link below
  • 15 oz curry base – recipe link below
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato paste – plus enough water to get to the consistency of passata
  • 1/6 lemon – juiced
  • all of the spice mix
  • 10 oz paneer – cut into bite size pieces

Instructions

The spice mix

  • Combine all the spice mix ingredients. Set aside.

Palak paneer

  • Be ready. Have your curry base simmering on the stove. Make your spice mix. Chop all the ingredients and have them at the ready. This is going to go very fast. You don’t have time to mess around.
  • Thaw the spinach. Drain it well.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the oil. When it shimmers add the onion and green chilies. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onions just start to brown on the edges. This takes 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic ginger paste and cook until it stops sputtering, about 1 minute.
  • Lower the heat to medium low. Add the spice mix. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30-45 seconds. You want to bloom the spices in the oil. You don’t want to burn it. If you burn the spices, start again. There’s no fixing it.
  • Add the diluted tomato paste and cilantro. Stir to combine and cook for about a minute.
  • Turn the heat up to medium high. Add 3 oz of the curry base. Stir to combine and cook until it it starts to crater. Little holes will appear. See the guide to Indian curries to understand what this means if you aren’t sure.
  • Add another 6 oz of curry base. Stir to combine and cook until it craters.
  • Now add the remaining curry base. Cook until it craters and reduce the heat to low. Add the spinach and stir to mix. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the paneer and warm through. If the curry seems dry add a bit more curry base.
  • Add the fresh lemon juice. Stir to combine. Serve. Enjoy!

Notes

Paneer is available at any Indian grocer. Some supermarkets carry it as well. It will be in the refrigerated section.
The recipe for indian restaurant spice mix is here
The recipe for garlic ginger paste is here.
The recipe for curry base is here.
If you haven’t read about Indian restaurant technique yet, do that before you start cooking.
Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.
If you are making multiple curries, have your curry base warming in a pot on the stove. If you are just making one, microwave it to warm it up right before you start cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 667kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 38g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 947mg | Potassium: 424mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 7150IU | Vitamin C: 11.3mg | Calcium: 763mg | Iron: 2mg
Indian restaurant palak paneer curry. Who says vegetarian can't be delicious!

16 thoughts on “palak paneer – indian restaurant style spinach curry”

  1. 5 stars
    Used some hours in the kitchen making the curry base and spice mix,. But its all worth it as the palak tasted wonderful,. Whish i could share a photo of it here,. Did freeze the rest of the curry base,. PS can this base be used making channa masala?
    Anyway, thanks for sharing some ‘‘secret‘‘ curry cooking advice,.
    Ate the palak paneer with some chapatis,.. Splendid!

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    Hi Romain!

    I’ve tried both your Chole Masala and Restaurant style madras recipes, and my god they are amazing! I was expecting the spice to be a little lacking (being Indian myself I’m used to a lot of spice!) but the recipes so far have been perfect, my girlfriend seems to love them too haha. I also use your restaurant spice mix, curry base, and ginger garlic paste. The only thing is I wish you used the metric system! I’m going to try the palak paneer recipe tonight, I’ve also made my own paneer 🙂

    I had a question however, you never really specify if I’m meant to use white or red onion in the recipes, should I default to a certain one?

    Thanks in advance,
    Ryan

    Reply
    • Delighted to hear you and your girlfriend are enjoying the recipes.

      Sorry about the imperial measurements. Conversion is pretty easy though. 1 cup is 237 ml. 1 pound is 454 grams. 1 tbsp is 15 ml.

      Unless otherwise specified the onions are plain old yellow/brown onions. If I were going to pick between white and red I would go red.

  3. 5 stars
    My wife and I made this and the butter chicken for friends of ours (we hadn’t made any glebekitchen recipes before), and everyone *loved* it. Thank you so much. We’ve never made Indian dishes that tasted this good. This weekend we’re going to try the korma with some neighbors.

    Reply
    • Delighted to hear that! Glad everyone enjoyed it. Hope the neighbours enjoy it too. It’s fun cooking in this style. Messy. But fun:-).

  4. 5 stars
    Served this recipe last night with paratha. Delicious. Good balance, spinach AND spices. Couln’t find paneer in the south of France, used Feta, this worked pretty well. Talking about spinach, would love your recipe of Hara Bhara Kebab. Breaking my teeth on this one. Works once in a while. Looking for something efficient. Tasty. Crispy. And predictable. Romain’s style 😉

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it. I don’t actually have a hara bhara kebab recipe I’m afraid. I’ll give that some thought. Tall order. Tasty. Crispy. Predictable:-)

  5. I love this recipe, in the uk it most relates to sag. Which is an indian curry with spinach. I have made this with mushrooms instead of paneer when i havent been able to get to the supermarket, and it tastes just as good. This is also the curry sauce i used most recently when creating a salmon wellington, salmon marinated in indian spices, seared than covered in sag and folded with puff pastry! So tasty!

    Reply
  6. Romain, where to begin..
    Your recipes and techniques have revolutionised the way I cook. Not just indian, but everything else too. I have been into cooking for 20 years but if anyone asks me for a “mentor”, it would be you. It’s not possible for me to describe the impact you’ve had on my cooking, but you could ask my friends as they have all salivated over many of these dishes as the aromas have spread around the kitchen. I wanted to comment on this dish in particular because it’s my all time favourite, but after having moved back to Copenhagen from London it’s not possible to find any indian food that meets the standard I’m accustomed to. My first attempt at this was a revelation – and it’s only become better. I did it once with frozen spinach (thawed and drained) but prefer using fresh blanched spinach that has been squeezed to remove as much water as possible. Along with the tadka dal these are now my go-to recipes whenever I need to cook to impress. No one in Denmark can cook indian food the way this website teaches. If I can request anything without sounding ungrateful, I would love to see your take on homemade paneer. It’s relatively simple and the results are usually amazing, but I would like to see your approach. Also can’t wait to try out the new hotel style you’ve been posting about lately.

    All the best!

    Reply
    • Jesper,

      What a wonderful comment. I am so glad I could be a part of your cooking adventures and I’m especially glad you are cooking food you can be proud of (and impress all your friends).

      My dad used to make paneer when I was growing up but this isn’t something I’ve carried on with. I will start looking into it though.

      Cheers from Ottawa!

    • If you’re using fresh spinach it’s a good idea to cook and drain it well before using it. Otherwise the spinach flavour will dominate/overpower.

  7. 5 stars
    Another fantastic meal. It tasted just like a restaurant palak paneer dish, perhaps even better. Thank you. Looking forward to trying the next one.

    Reply

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