Palak Paneer Restaurant style
Looking for the perfect recipe to make vibrant green Palak Paneer Restaurant style at home? This step-by-step recipe is for you. Out of my many attempts, this one turned out the best palak paneer at home.
If this is your first time making palak paneer, don’t worry. Refer to the tips section, for how to retain green color palak leaves after blanching and while making the gravy.
What is Palak Paneer?
Palak = Spinach and Paneer = Indian Cottage cheese
The dish is comprised of, soft cubes of paneer that are simmered in a creamy, luscious, mouth-melting palak gravy flavored with basic Indian spices.
Palak Paneer is a popular Indian vegetarian dish with origins in the Punjab region. This dish evolved from the North Indian traditional dish, saag paneer.
Due to the gravy’s vibrant color, it is often referred to as green paneer. It is also everyone’s favorite dish in restaurants and dhabas. Usually indulged with Indian bread like butter naan, tandoori roti, rumali roti, or rice varieties such as plain basmati rice, jeera rice, pulao.
Palak Paneer is packed with nutrition. Palak is one of the richest sources of iron and paneer, made of milk is loaded with calcium and protein. If you cook in less oil and without cream, it is a great choice for weight loss.
About Palak Paneer Recipe
This restaurant style palak paneer recipe will give you a mildly spiced, flavorful, deliciously creamy, and vibrantly green dish.
There are many variations of the palak paneer recipe depending on the restaurant.
I have noticed two ways palak gravy is made at restaurants and dhabas.
1. One method is to blanch palak first and puree it.
2. Another one is, spinach is cooked directly without blanching.
The recipe I am sharing is by blanching the palak first. The process is straightforward, first, blanch the spinach leaves and grind them to a smooth puree. Next cook along with onion tomato, ginger-garlic, green chilies, and a few basic Indian spices for flavor.
Add fresh paneer cubes, simmer for a few minutes and finish by adding butter and cream.
I like to add Punjabi tadka/tempering of ghee, chopped garlic, dry red chili, and a pinch of red chili on top. It gives an authentic restaurant look and elevates the taste too. Same as how the Kesar da Dhaba in Amritsar serves palak paneer.
So, what makes this Palak Paneer Restaurant style recipe special? The authentic recipe is about the tips to retain the green color of spinach leaves, ingredients, and cooking process for the best restaurant-style taste.
Reasons to make
Palak and Paneer are healthy
The combination is delicious
Simple and easy to make
Gets ready in 30 minutes
Best way to sneak healthy greens into kids’ meal
Ingredients to make Palak Paneer Restaurant style
Though it’s Palak Paneer Restaurant style, the ingredients are common in Indian pantries and do not need any fancy ingredients.
Paneer: Use homemade or store-bought. Make sure it is fresh.
Palak/Spinach: Recommend using fresh and small/baby leaves that are light or medium green in color. Avoid dark-colored leaves. If you use local/desi palak leaves and the stalk (stem, dandiya) is thick, do not use the stalk. If outside India can use frozen spinach too.
Green chilies: It is the only ingredient used to make the dish spicy. Can add according to your taste.
Onion & Tomato: For the base of the gravy. Use Bangalore tomatoes, instead of local ones.
Whole Spices: Cumin seeds, dry red chilies.
Aromatics: ginger and garlic paste.
Spice powders: turmeric powder and garam masala.
Fat: Oil, Butter, and Cream.
Herbs: Use fresh coriander and dried fenugreek leaves.
Dried Fenugreek leaves is an essential Indian herb that has a distinct flavor with a slight bitterness. It is easily available in Indian grocery stores labeled kasuri methi. It does not have a substitute. If you do not have this herb in your pantry, I recommend you buy from a store or order online, as you will continue to use this ingredient in any restaurant-style Punjabi dishes.
Secret Ingredients to blanch palak
While blanching palak leaves, add fresh coriander leaves. Add a pinch of sugar and salt to the boiling water, it helps to retain the color of the leaves. A few of the restaurants also add a pinch of soda to make the water alkaline, to get the vibrant green color of palak.
It will be a treat to the eyes to watch the natural color pop and will make you clap for yourself or pat your back.
Soak the paneer: If using a store-bought paneer packet, wash the paneer slab after taking it out from the packet to get rid of the slimy layer on top. Next, soak it in hot water for 20-30 minutes before adding it to the gravy.
If you are using frozen paneer, boil it for 1-2 minutes or until it softens. Drain and use.
Blanch the palak: Blanch the leaves for just a min and immediately add them to ice water. Blanch the leaves in an open pan without a lid.
Palak puree: Make the puree by adding very little cold water or 1-2 ice cubes. If the water is more, it has to be cooked for more time and the gravy color will turn dark.
Spice powders to avoid: Red chili powder, adding it can alter the gravy color.
Cooking the gravy: After adding palak puree, do not cook the gravy for a long time.
For soft paneer: Add the paneer after the palak gravy is cooked and simmer for a min or two, else the paneer will become hard and chewy.
Kasuri methi: Before adding kasoori methi to the gravy, crush it between your palm before adding. It will release its flavor.
Sometimes because of moisture, you will not be able to crush it into powder. In that case, dry roast it on low flame in a pan on the stovetop or toast it in the microwave for 30-34 seconds. Let it cool and then crush.
This is an indulgent dish, so do not cut down the butter and cream amount. It will give that authentic restaurant-style buttery and creamy flavor. You can add more to make it super rich or while making it for your guests.
Do not cook the cream: Add the cream and cook for a minute, that’s it. If the cream is cooked for more time, it will turn to ghee.
Do not cover the pan/kadai throughout the cooking process.
How to make Palak Paneer Restaurant style?
1. Rinse the palak leaves very well under running water.
2. Heat a large pot of water on the stovetop. Let it come to a rolling boil.
3. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp sugar to the hot water and stir.
4. Add the spinach leaves, coriander leaves, and 3-5 green chilies and give a good stir. Cook on high flame for 1 minute.
While the spinach leaves are blanching, keep a large bowl or ice water aside.
5. Strain the spinach leaves and immediately transfer the leaves to the ice-cold water. Let the leaves sit in the cold water for a minute.
This step will stop the cooking process of spinach and helps to preserve the bright green color of the spinach.
6. Drain the water and gently press the spinach leaves to remove the excess moisture.
7. Add the leaves to a blender or food processor.
8. Blend until you get a smooth spinach puree. Set it aside.
If the ingredients are getting stuck in the blender, add 2-3 tablespoons of water to help it puree in the blender.
9. Heat 2 tbsps oil, ghee, olive oil, or butter in a large pan, or dutch oven over medium flame.
If using butter, add 1 tsp oil to prevent it from burning.
10. When hot, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and let them splatter.
11. Add the chopped onions (2 medium-sized) and saute until they being to turn slightly brown.
12. Add 1/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder. Saute till the raw aroma of ginger garlic goes away.
13. Then add 1 medium-sized chopped tomato. Stir and saute the tomatoes until they turn soft and mushy.
14. Once you see fat releasing from the sides of the onion-tomato masala, add salt to taste. Mix very well.
15 & 16. Now add 1/4th cup of water and saute until the moisture reduces and the fat separates at the sides of the pan.
17 & 18. Add the spinach puree to the pan and mix well.
19. Saute by stirring frequently until the water reduces and small droplets of oil begin to appear on top of the spinach puree.
20 & 21. Add about 1/2 cup of hot water. Give a good mix.
22. Add paneer cubes to the palak gravy and gently mix.
23 & 24. Then add 1/4 tsp of garam masala and 1 tsp of crushed dry fenugreek leaves. Mix.
25 & 26. Lastly, add 1 tbsp butter and 2-3 tbsps cream.
27 & 28. Mix well so that the cream gets uniformly incorporated into the spinach gravy. Simmer the curry for 1-2 minutes and turn off the heat.
Palak Paneer Restaurant style is ready. Serve hot with your choice of flatbread or any rice variety. Transfer it to a serving bowl and top it up with some butter and drizzle cream.
Add second tadka/tempering to make Lasooi Palak Paneer
Heat oil and ghee in a small pan.
Add cumin seeds and chopped garlic and saute till it starts changing color.
Next, add a dry red chilly and red chili powder.
Immediately pour the tadka over the Palak Paneer. Lasooni Palak Paneer Restaurant style is ready to serve.
Pair it with rumali roti, tandoori roti, butter naan, or jeera rice with onion slices and lemon wedges on the side for an authentic Indian dining experience.
It tastes good as a side dish even with wheat roti, chapatis, plain parathas, lacha parathas, pulao, or plain basmati rice.
You can store the leftover in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Reheat before serving, the gravy thickens as it cools. So, add little water while reheating and adjust the consistency as per your preference.
If there is any party or get-together, you can make this dish a day ahead without the second tadka and refrigerate it. Make sure to thaw the dish at room temperature for an hour. Re-heat and pour the tadka before serving. The dish will taste as good as fresh.
More Restaurant style recipes
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Palak Paneer Restaurant style
Blanching the Spinach
- 250 gms Palak (baby spinach)
- 2-3 tbsp Coriander leaves
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Sugar
- 3-4 cups Water
For Palak Paneer curry
- 4 tbsp Oil
- 100 gms Paneer
- 2 medium size Onion (finely chopped)
- 1 medium size Tomato (finely chopped)
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1/2 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds (jeera)
- 2-3 tbsp Cream
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1/4 tsp Garam masala
- 1/2 Water (hot)
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tbsp Oil (or ghee)
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 2-4 Garlic cloves (chopped)
- 2 Dry red chilies
- 1/2 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili powder
Blanching the Palak
- Remove the stem, clean, and wash the spinach thoroughly under running water.
- To blanch the palak, heat enough water in a large pot and bring to a rolling boil.
- Add salt and sugar to the hot water and stir.
- Add spinach, coriander, and green chilies. Cook on high flame for 1 minute.
- Strain the spinach leaves and immediately transfer the leaves to the ice-cold water. Let the leaves sit in the cold water for a minute.
- Drain the water and gently press the spinach leaves to remove the excess moisture. Add the leaves to a blender or food processor.
- Blend until a smooth spinach puree. If the ingredients are getting stuck in the blender, add 2-3 tablespoons of ice-cold water to help it puree in the blender. Set it aside.
Making the Palak Paneer
- Heat 2 tbsps oil, ghee, olive oil, or butter in a large pan, or dutch oven over medium flame.
- When hot, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and let them splatter.
- Add the chopped onions and saute until they being to turn slightly brown.
- Add ginger garlic paste and turmeric powder. Saute till the raw aroma of ginger garlic goes away.
- Then add 1 medium sized chopped tomato. Stir and saute the tomatoes until they turn soft and mushy.
- Once you see fat releasing from the sides of the onion-tomato masala, add salt. Mix very well.
- Now add 1/4th cup of water and saute until the moisture reduces and the fat separates at the sides of the pan.
- Add the spinach puree to the pan and mix well. Saute by stirring frequently until the water reduces and small droplets of oil begin to appear on top of the spinach puree.
- Add about 1/2 cup of hot water. Give a good mix.
- Add paneer cubes to the palak gravy and gently mix.
- Then add 1/4 tsp of garam masala and 1 tsp of crushed dry fenugreek leaves. Mix.
- Lastly, add 1 tbsp butter and 2-3 tbsps cream. Mix well so that the cream gets uniformly incorporated into the spinach gravy.
- Palak Paneer Restaurant style is ready. Serve hot with your choice of flatbread or any rice variety. Transfer it to a serving bowl and top it up with some butter and drizzle cream.
- Heat ghee in a small pan. Add cumin seeds and chopped garlic and saute till it changes to light golden color.
- Next, add dry red chilies and red chili powder. Pour the tadka over the Palak Paneer.
- Lasooni Palak Paneer Restaurant style is ready to serve. Can garnish with cream.
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