Preparing Palak Paneer

By Muffy Marracco , last updated December 21, 2011

Preparing palak paneer is easy. This healthful dish consists mostly of spinach and a fresh cheese called paneer. It is sometimes referred to as saag paneer. It hails from Northern India and Pakistan. You can substitute tofu or chunks of potato for the paneer cheese if you wish.

Blanch one pound of fresh spinach. Then put in the food processor until it is finely chopped but not overly pureed. Set aside. Heat two tablespoons of cooking oil in a large saucepan. Add two medium onions, minced, and cook for about five minutes. Then, add a piece of chopped ginger and four cloves of minced garlic, cooking for another five minutes. Add one large can of pureed tomatoes, stirring as it cooks so the mixture does not burn.

Then cube the paneer cheese, cutting into half-inch pieces. You can make your own paneer if you cannot find it in the store. To do this, boil one quart of whole milk. Add half a teaspoon of lemon juice to half a cup of warm water. When the milk is at a boil, pour the water and lemon juice mixture into it. Reduce the heat and stir until the milk curdles completely. Remove from the heat once the curds and whey have separated. Strain the mixture through a piece of cheesecloth. Hold the bundle under running water for a minute and then squeeze out the excess liquid. Hang the cheesecloth bundle for 15 to 20 minutes until the whey has drained completely. Once drained, the paneer is ready to use.

In another pan, heat a tablespoon of oil and add the paneer cubes once it is hot. Brown the cubes on all sides. Remove the cubes and allow to drain on a paper towel. Meanwhile, add the spinach to the tomato mixture. Then add spices. Add two teaspoons of garam masala, one teaspoon of cumin, two teaspoons of coriander, a quarter teaspoon of turmeric and salt and red chili powder to taste. Stir well and continue cooking. You can add in a few tablespoons of milk or cream if you desire. Add the cubes of paneer cheese and stir in before serving.

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