Palak Paneer – Indian Spinach Curry with Homemade Fresh Cheese

A lush Indian spinach curry, made with golden pan-fried pieces of homemade cheese (paneer).

Palak Paneer – Indian Spinach Curry with Homemade Fresh Cheese

  • Servings: 6 servings

This is one of the milder Indian curries out there, both in heat and spice intensity. The gentle spicing from fenugreek, cumin and coriander plays well with the delicate spinach flavour, without overwhelming it. Meanwhile, the paneer are like little creamy sponges that suck up all those tasty flavours in the sauce!


  • 2 pounds homemade or store-bought Paneer (Indian fresh cheese)
  • 30g / 2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter (for pan frying)
  • 30g / 2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 onions, finely chopped (brown or yellow)
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds (whole)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp salt, kosher/cooking salt (if using table salt, reduce by 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger, finely grated (20g)
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced (cayenne, optional)
  • 700g/ 1.4lb fresh spinach leaves (English spinach), thoroughly washed and roughly chopped (~9 cups very tightly packed), or a mix of spinach and kale
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp cream (pure, heavy or thickened)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  • Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes until onion is softened but not golden.
  • Add garlic and ginger, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the tomato and chilli, cook for 3 minutes on a medium heat.
  • Add about 1/3 of the spinach – or as much as you can handle in the pot – and stir until wilted. Then add more spinach along with the water, cook again until wilted. Repeat until all the spinach is wilted.
  • Cook, stirring every now and then, for 10 minutes still on a medium heat.
  • Add the cream and lemon juice. Cook, stirring gently, for 3 minutes.
  • Blend half the spinach mixture with a stick blender (this can be accomplished by tilting the pot and selective blending). Stir to combine.
  • Gently stir in golden pan-fried paneer.
  • Serve over basmati rice with fluffy, chewy homemade naan on the side!

  • Paneer – This is a fresh cheese used in Indian cooking. Even though nowadays you can buy it at stores, homemade is superior by a long shot. It’s softer, with a much more creamy texture (store-bought is hard and dry). It’s easy to make, it’s just milk curdled with an acid, then strained.
  • Ghee is clarified butter, one of the traditional fats used in Indian cooking. It is simply butter without the water and milk solids, so you have pure butter fat. It has a more intense flavour than butter. Either buy it, make it (it’s easy and keeps for months) or just use normal butter!
  • Fenugreek seeds – Available at stores that carry a decent range of spices. I found it at Harris Farms (Australia). Also, of course, at Indian grocery stores! They are used whole in this recipe. Don’t worry they soften through cooking so you will not bite down on one and break a tooth!
  • How to peel tomatoes (easily) – Cut a cross in the base of the tomato and cut out a small circle from the stem end. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then put tomatoes in for 30 seconds. The skin will start curl away from the cut. Remove, put in bowl of cold water (just from the tap is fine). Then the skin will easily peel off. Scoop out watery seeds, then finely chop and use per recipe. If you are in a hurry, you can use 3/4 cup of canned crushed tomato instead.
  • Green chilli – Use a large green chilli (cayenne) so it’s not too spicy.
  • Spinach – This recipe is best made using bunches of fresh true spinach, known as English Spinach. You will need ~5 large bunches weighing 1.25 kg in total in order to get ~700g/1.4lb of spinach leaves. Yes, that is a lot – but think of all the nutrition you’re getting in! Pick off the leaves, weigh out 700g/1.4lb. If it’s easier to use baby spinach, add some texture back in by using half baby spinach and half kale.
  • Pan-fried paneer – While you are welcome to use paneer that has not been pan-fried, you’ll find that raw paneer is a bit delicate and prone to crumbling when stirred into curries. Once pan-fried, it sets better so it’s not as delicate. Plus, that golden crust is so good!
  • Storage – This curry will keep for 4 to 5 days in the fridge, but the spice flavour does start to fade. It’s best consumed freshly made, or the next day.