Saturday, January 14, 2012

Palak Paneer (and how to make paneer)

I made cheese! Wohoo! I love activities where in cooking where i can make the components that you're so used to buying ready made. It adds another level to the care and control you have over a dish. And in this case, paneer is so cheap and so easy to make, I'm sure it, or other home made cheeses, will appear in other recipes down the line.

Palak Paneer is a vegetarian curry using paneer instead of meat, and with spinach as the basis for the sauce. Paneer has a taste and texture similar to firm ricotta (in fact this whole dish rings of cannelloni filling to me); as such, it acts in this dish as a conveyor of the sauce's flavor rather than as a distinct flavoring element of its own.

Happy cheese making!


Paneer (Per 1 main serve)

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 litre full cream milk
  • Cheesecloth or muslin

Palak Paneer (4 serves)

  • 300gm paneer
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 500gm spinach, pureed
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp canola oil



Place a colander in your sink and line with cheesecloth, muslin,or even a clean tea towel
Combine the lemon juice with 1/4 cup water
Place the milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a rolling boil, stirring regularly
Remove from the heat and pour in the lemon juice
The milk should split into white curds (the paneer) and a clearish yellow liquid (whey). If the curds are not defined or the whey is very milky, add more lemon juice.
Return to the heat and cook for a further 2 or so minutes.
Pour the contents of the saucepan into the colander through the cloth; the whey should pass through and the paneer curds remain
Rinse the curds well with warm water
Gather the edges of the cloth and wring out the paneer, to remove as much water as you can
Hang the paneer over the sink and leave for 30 minutes or so for more water to come out.
Finally, place the paneer, still in the cloth, under a heavy weight like a cast iron pot, to press out any remaining liquid.
Knead the paneer on a clean bench (it will be crumbly at first but stick to it).
Form into a brick shape.
Refrigerate or freeze until required.

Palak Paneer

Cut the paneer into cubes
Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat
Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes
Add the ginger and garlic and saute until browned
Add the cumin and saute for 1 more minute
Add the tomatoes and saute until they form a paste
Add the spinach, cream, chili and garam masala
Season to taste with salt and pepper
Carefully stir through the cubed paneer and leave to simmer until heated through
Serve with freshly cooked roti.


  1. Yum! This is one of my favourite Indian dishes. And all the better when the paneer is hand made. :-)

  2. Thanks Cindy! I love this dish as well, though i'm even more enamored with those sweet potato dumplings that some Indian restaurants have! Have you seen those? Wish i could remember what they're called, and i'd cook them!

    1. Sweet potato? I don't think I do know those! I am also partial to malai kofta, which are potato/cheese dumplings in tomato gravy, and pakora (battered, deep-fried random veges), but I'm not sure I've experienced this sweet potato specialty!



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