For the paste:
- 200g spinach
- 1-2 green chillies, chopped
- 1-2 small to medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- ½ inch ginger, roughly chopped
- 700ml water for blanching
- 700ml water for ice bath
- 1 small to medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 small to medium tomato, chopped
- 4-5 small to medium garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (or the same crushed fresh turmeric)
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1 medium Indian bay leaf
- 200-250g paneer (cottage cheese) or tofu
- 90-120ml of water (as required)
- 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoon oil, ghee or unsalted butter
- Salt as required
Rinse the spinach leaves (palak) in running water. Boil 3 cups water in a pan. Add ¼ tsp salt to the hot water and stir. Then add the spinach leaves in the hot water. Let the spinach leaves sit in the water for 1 minute.
After 1 minute, using a pasta tong, take the leaves out. Transfer to a bowl of ice cold water. This preserves the green colour of the spinach. Just add 8 to 10 ice cubes to 3 cups water to get cold water, leave for 1 minute
Drain the ice-cold water, add the spinach in a blender or grinder jar with chopped ginger, garlic and green chilies. Make a smooth puree then put aside
Heat the oil, ghee or butter in a pan. If using butter, melt it on a low heat making sure that the butter does not brown.
Add the cumin seeds and let them splutter, then add the bay leaf and finely chopped onions. Saute till the onions become golden.
Then add the finely chopped garlic and sauté well. Add the chopped tomatoes, stir until they soften. Once the tomatoes are softened, add the turmeric powder and red chili powder and stir well. Then add the spinach (palak) puree and mix well. Add 120ml water or as required, stirring continuously.
Simmer for 6 to 7 minutes or more until the spinach is cooked. Season with salt and add garam masala powder.
Stir again and then add the paneer (cottage cheese) cubes. Simmer on a low heat until the paneer cubes become soft and succulent. Cook for about 1 minute.
Lastly, add 1 tablespoon heavy cream and mix it in.
To serve, pour the palak paneer in serving bowls and top it with some butter or cream. You can also drizzle a few drops of lime or lemon juice on top and serve with a choice of rice, roti or naan.
A very detailed version of this recipe with video and picture accompaniment can be found on Veg Recipes of India.