Dhaba Style Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer has got to be the most popular and recognized vegetarian dishes in North Indian cuisine. The combination of fresh, vitamin packed spinach leaves with protein rich homemade cottage cheese or panir has all the characteristics of a well balanced meal. Try this Dhaba style recipe, or rustic version of palak paneer, and enjoy the amazing textures and flavors of spinach, garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes….simply yum!

Scroll down for detailed recipe video.

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Serves: 4-6

Spinach – 1 lb
Paneer – 8oz, cubed
Oil – 2 Tbsp
Ghee – 1 Tbsp
Cinnamon Stick – 1
Bay Leaves – 2
Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) – 1/8 tsp
Whole Peppercorn – 10
Whole Cloves – 2
Garlic – 5 cloves
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Green Chilies – 2 or to taste
Onion – 1 cup, finely chopped
Salt – to taste
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Chili Powder – 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1/2 tsp or to taste
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
Cumin Powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
Dry Fenugreek Leaves (Kashuri Methi) – 1 Tbsp
Tomatoes – 2 medium, finely chopped
Water – 1/2 cup
Heavy Cream – 1/4 cup
Nutmeg – 1/2 tsp

For the seasoning:
Ghee – 1 Tbsp
Dry Red Chilies – 2 to 3
Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Ginger – 1 inch, julienned

1. Blanch Spinach by boiling in water for 2 to 3 minutes, straining and adding to a bowl of ice water. After a few minutes, strain and coarsely blend using the pulse button on the blender.
2. Add Oil in a pan on medium heat.
3. Once Oil is hot, add cubed Paneer and saute until all or most sides are golden brown.
4. Remove Paneer from the pan while straining excess oil and soaking it in a bowl of water. Keep aside.
5. Roughly crush Whole Peppercorn and Whole Cloves in a mortar and pestle.
6. Add Garlic, Ginger and Green Chilies to the the crushed peppercorn/cloves and roughly crush.
7. Add Ghee to the reserved Oil from sauteing paneer.
8. Add Cinnamon Stick, Bay Leaves, Cumin Seeds, Asafoetida (Hing) and roughly crushed Garlic, Ginger, Green Chilies. Saute until golden.
9. Add Onions, a little Salt and saute until Onions are golden brown.
10. Add Turmeric Powder, Kashmiri Chili Powder, Red Chili Powder, Coriander Powder, Cumin Powder, Garam Masala and Dry Fenugreek Leaves. Mix well.
11. Add Tomatoes and Mix. Add Water and cook until Tomatoes are soft.
12. Add ground Spinach, Salt and mix. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
13. Add Heavy Cream and Nutmeg. Mix well.
14. Squeeze water from soaked Paneer and add to the Spinach.
15. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until all flavors have a chance to come together.
16. For the seasoning, heat Ghee in a small skillet.
17. Add Dry Red Chilies and Cumin and let them sizzle.
18. Add julienned Ginger and allow it to slightly brown.
19. Pour seasoning over Palak Paneer and serve.

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7 thoughts on “Dhaba Style Palak Paneer

    1. Really delicious! The best palak paneer dish I ever cooked. Thanks so much for sharing.
      I changed it slightly: Used about 4 to 5 tblsp tomato paste instead of whole tomatoes and 1/2 cup heavy cream.

  1. Hi.. looks really tasty. I had the same question about soaking the Paneer in water.. never seen that before. Can you explain why that is done?

    1. Hi Chandana and Jack!
      Though not a must, the frying of the paneer gives it an additional level of flavor and texture (absolutely personal taste) and the soaking it in the water, does two things, takes out not needed oiliness and then squeezing out the liquid from the paneer, makes them softer and they are able to absorb the flavors of the curry/gravy. The store bought Paneer in the USA is not as soft as the paneer we get in India so this helps. Again, personal choice and if you want to skip this step, it’ll still taste good.
      Hope that helps and Happy Cooking!

  2. We’ve just tried this Dhaba-Style Palak Paneer, which is delicious. I used rainbow chard instead of spinach. Don’t quite understand why you put the fried paneer in water. Simply to cool it down after cooking?
    Since it’s our (English) asparagus season, I’m going to have a bash at Garlic Asparagus Pulao (pilau?).

    Stay safe! — Jack Adrian

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