Palak paneer is a north Indian delicacy, well known around the world as most Indian restaurants serve it. It consists of a creamy palak (spinach) gravy and delicious soft cubes of paneer (firm farmer’s cheese made from cow/buffalo milk) . Even with healthy ingredients like spinach and protein rich paneer, this dish can be high in fats for several reasons. Typically the paneer itself has a lot of fat. It is also often pan fried in butter/oil to get a golden crust before adding to this dish. Some recipes use heavy cream to make the gravy smooth and creamy. A little bit of everything can add up to counter the health benefits of eating the leafy green spinach.
When I make palak paneer at home, I try to make it healthier by changing a few things - using low fat milk to make homemade paneer and not pan frying it; adding kale along with spinach; eliminating heavy cream, and using cashew puree. The cashew puree helps thicken the gravy and also adds a little sweetness to balance the slight bitterness of kale. In this recipe I’ve used a half and half ratio of kale and spinach, but I often make it with just kale. Feel free to experiment with the ratio as per your liking - keeping in mind that kale can be somewhat bitter...but SO healthy!
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
~2 cups cubed paneer (Click here for homemade low fat paneer recipe)
1.5 cups packed kale leaves, chopped (hard stem removed)
1.5 cups packed spinach
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3-5 tomatoes, roughly chopped (~1.5 cups)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
¼ cup raw cashews (optional)
1 tsp oil
½ tsp cumin seeds (optional)
¼ tsp asafoetida powder* (optional)
1-2 Tbsp coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½-1 tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp garam masala (optional)
Salt to taste
Soak the cashews in half a cup of hot water.
Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and once they start to brown, add the asafoetida powder, quickly followed by chopped onions. Add the ginger and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent. Add chopped tomatoes and remaining spices. Saute until the tomatoes begin to break down. Add the chopped kale leaves and let them wilt a little before adding spinach. Mix everything together and take the pot off the heat.
In a blender or food processor, puree the soaked cashews. Add the cooked mixture and puree it to the consistency of your liking. I had to do this in batches to ensure everything was pureed well.
Add the pureed mixture back to the pot on medium heat, season with salt, adjust spices and add more water if the gravy is too thick. Cook for ~5 minutes before adding paneer. Let everything heat through and then take off the heat.
Serve warm with roti or rice.
Asafoetida, or hing is an herb used extensively in Indian cooking to enhance flavor and aid digestion. It can be found in any Indian store.
Find us on Facebook: