Palak Paneer

June 13, 2013    BY Jon Janaka

Yield: 2 to 3 servings




  • 1 cup paneer
  • 10–12 ounces fresh spinach, washed and stems trimmed
  • 2–3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1–2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 inch-piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (for a spicier kick, use 1 teaspoon garam masala or chili powder instead; add more to taste )
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)



  • Put 2 to 3 tablespoons of ghee into a medium pan with the onion, garlic, and ginger. When the onions have softened, add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and paprika (or garam masala or chili powder). Cook the spices for 1 minute.* 
  • Now it’s time for the greens. Fresh spinach cooks down quite a lot, so you can fill up the pan and keep stirring until there is room for more. The spinach will become tender and release most of its juices within about 5 minutes. Add the salt.
  • Carefully dish the cooked spinach (and liquids, too!) into a blender or food processor and puree until you reach the desired consistency. You can add paneer at this stage if you prefer a smooth, uniform texture, or leave the paneer in larger chunks and add it at the end. Add whey, water, or yogurt to the blended spinach if you want a thinner consistency.
  • Return the blended mix to your pan and crumble in any remaining paneer, stirring briefly. You may need to add a little more heat to warm up the paneer, but it does not require any cooking. Serve with warm basmati rice or a flat bread such as chapati or naan.



For the Paneer: Paneer hardens in the refrigerator, so if you want a softer, smoother cheese, make it right before cooking your greens. If you’re craving extra ghee, use some to lightly fry the paneer in a skillet until lightly brown. This makes a nice blend of textures in the dish. Substitute tofu for a vegan version.


*This recipe is very mild. To spice it up a bit, add cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper  to taste as you cook the spices

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Jon Janaka
Jon Janaka is a sanskrit scholar who worked in the Himalayan Institute kitchen for over five years.