Bought some fresh bunch of palak and mint leaves last weekend. So I had to make palak paneer out of this. I never liked any vegetarian dishes before marriage but everything changed post marriage. From my choice of food to my taste, everything just changed. Why? Because my husband and in laws are vegetarians 😁 I was not too much fond of vegetarian dishes plus I didn’t know how to cook them too. So when I started cooking, I had to call my mom for almost all the recipes. After a lot of trial and errors, I started cooking on my own, without my moms guidance. And now I am sure she will love palak paneer or any other dish made by me I don’t make this very often as my dear husband doesn’t like it much. So say once in a month, I do make this. I also don’t add too much paneer, just a few cubes.
For palak paneer, I follow her recipe with just one change, that too just sometimes. She doesn’t add mint leaves to it and I do. The flavor of mint adds freshness to the dish. The credit goes to the food groups I follow. I have read so many recipes using mint leaves and I also quite like using mint leaves to my palak paneer (not too much though). You can choose to skip mint leaves totally. To be true, I have never liked this dish in any restaurant or made by someone else other than my mom.
The palak gravy I make is not very smooth as I use finely chopped onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic. My mom makes the puree in her silbatta and that makes a lot difference. I personally just don’t like the puree if made using mixer grinder. So I prefer chopping them as finely as I can and use. My mom actually add hing while preparing the masalas and gives just ghee tadka in the end. But I like adding hing to the tadka. Palak paneer goes well with Phulkas and rice both. I serve it with phulkas when I make it for dinner and with rice for lunch.
I have used homemade paneer. I don’t discard the whey and add this to the gravy to get the desired consistency. I also don’t fry the paneer. If you don’t like using raw paneer than saute them in a pan with some ghee before making the gravy. Lets move to the recipe now.
3 cups tightly packed chopped spinach (palak)
Paneer cubes as needed
1/4 cup, loosely packed mint leaves (optional)
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 big tomato, chopped finely
3 big garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 inch ginger, chopped finely
Green chilly to taste, chopped finely
1 1/2 tsp jeera (cumin) powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp pepper powder, freshly ground
1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric) powder
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
2 tbsp oil/ghee
For the tadka:
Ghee as needed
Hing as per your taste
Clean the spinach leaves properly using water. Chop the leaves and cook them for one whistle in a pressure cooker using half a cup of water. If you want, you can blanch the leaves as well. Open the lid, discard all the water. Keep the leaves in a strainer, wash it with chilled water (helps retaining the color) and then puree the spinach along with the mint leaves in a grinder. Keep aside. Make sure you drain the water well from the leaves and not use any water while grinding it.
Heat oil in a pan, add the chopped onion, ginger and garlic. Keep the flame low and fry till the onions turns very soft. Once done, add chopped tomatoes, jeera powder, haldi to it and cook till oil separates from the mixture. Add pepper powder, garam masala, sugar and mix. Saute for a minute and add palak puree. At this time, you can add some warm water to the puree as per the consistency you desire. Add paneer cubes as well. Keep the flame high and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes. Switch off the flame. Don’t simmer it for more than the mentioned time as it affects the green color of palak. .
For tadka, Heat some ghee in a big spoon or a small pan. Add hing to the heated ghee, spread over the palak paneer and serve. This tadka needs to be added just before serving.
* Do not skip pepper powder and sugar, it enhance the taste. Also use freshly ground pepper powder only to get the perfect taste.
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