Indian cottage cheese over a vibrant green spiced spinach sauce and finished with a splash of cashew cream. Life in quarantine: I’m digging through old favorites and finally writing down recipes I’ve had and made for ages, but never gotten around to posting them here. I always consider these dishes too common and mainstream of stereotypical Indian restaurants here in the states, so I shied away from posting them wanting instead to focus on lesser known parts of Indian cuisine. But the truth is, I’ve eaten and enjoyed these dishes my entire life as part of our everyday meals and just at restaurants, so I asked myself why not share my version here? Every household in India makes these dishes their own way and there’s no one recipe for them, there’s no right or wrong. Simply adjust favors to your taste.
Also, these kind of dishes are recipes I usually make from memory and had never actually written down to be able to share. However, I happened to feature this dish in this way for one of my Indian Pop-Up dinners I hosted here in Spokane, Washington….and it was a favorite. Before my pop-up dinners, I fine tune my recipes and tweak them not just for flavor but also to make them more visually appealing as you eat with your eyes first and I am usually catering to a western audience, who isn’t familiar with Indian Cuisine.
So here’s my version of Palak Paneer a classic north Indian dish of cottage cheese cubes in a spinach based sauce. If you don’t have access to Indian Paneer, you can try tofu or even mini mozzarella balls, just skip the pan frying if you are using mozzarella.
- 1-1.5 cups Paneer*
- 3- 4 cups Spinach packed
- 2-3 tbsp oil/butter as needed
- 2-3 green chilies (thai peppers) adjust to your spice level
- 3/4 cup onion diced or blended
- 1 tsp garlic-ginger paste
- 1/2 cup tomatoes diced or puree
- 1/2 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) (optional but recomended if available)
- 8 cashews soaked in warm water & blended to a paste
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- inch cinnamon stick
- 2-3 green cardamom pods
- 2-3 cloves
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- Add a teaspoon oil in a pan and add the sliced green chilies and spinach leaves. Cook the leaves until just wilted, but avoid overcooking to retain its vibrant green color. Set aside to cool.
- Once cooled blend the spinach and green chilies to a smooth puree.
- To make the gravy- heat oil in a pan and add the whole spices. as soon as they begin to splutter add the onions and sauté on medium high heat until they turn translucent.
- Add the ginger garlic paste and fry until the raw smell goes away.
- Add the tomatoes and season with salt. cook the tomatoes down until they turn mushy.
- The add the kasuri methi and spice powders and fry the mixture until it starts releasing oil.
- Pour in half a cup of water and stir until the mixture thickens.
- Lower the heat and add the spinach puree. mix well until it comes to a gentle simmer.
- (optional) Pan fry the paneer cubes with 1-2 tsp oil for 2-3 mins until golden on each side in a separate pan. Add the paneer cubes to the spinach mixture and turn off the heat.
- Add the cashew paste mixed with the cream and stir it in for added creaminess. Reserve some for garnish.