All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Paraku paniiru / palak paneer / spinach and cheese curry

This light palak paneer is reminiscent of my favorite dish in Agra. The original recipe was lost between relocations in following years, and this is a recreation attempt of the recipe I got from the chef.

1/4 recipe (curry only, naan not included): 
188 calories; 9.4 g protein; 14.3 g fat; 6.4 g carbohydrate; 3.7 g net carbs; 52 mg sodium; 34 mg cholesterol; 2.7 g fiber

(4 servings)

1 small or 1/2 large bunch spinach (252 g in photo)
100-150 g paneer (150 g in photo)
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (3 g in photo)
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
2-3 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves; 0.4 g in photo)
1 1/2 tsp tsp garam masala (3 g in photo)
3/4 tsp shiokoji salted rice malt
1/4 medium onion (48 g in photo)
1 clove garlic (3 g in photo)
1 small or 1/2 large roma tomato (56 g in photo)
1 1/2 tbsp oil


Bring plenty of water to boil, and have a large bowl with cold water ready.
When water boils, put spinach, stems first.

When leaves brighten, immediately transfer to cold water to cool and preserve color.
When cool, transfer to colander or zaru strainer to naturally drain excess water (do not squeeze out water).   
Transfer spinach to a small or medium bowl, and cut into 3-4 cm with a knife.
At this point, spinach and water together should ideally weigh approx. 300 g (286 g in photo). .
Transfer to food processor, and chop relatively finely (to the point where stem and leaf bits are visible; do not puree).


Finely chop onion.
Grate garlic.
Cut paneer into cubes.
Dice tomato into 1-1.5 cm.


In a pot, put oil and cumin seeds, and cook on medium low to low heat until fragrant.
Add onion and garlic, and continue sauteing until onion becomes translucent.


Add tomato, and saute until it starts to lose shape and oil becomes somewhat reddish.


Add cayenne pepper, garam masala, kasuri methi and two-thirds of shiokoji, sauteing 30-60 seconds each time you add these.

(If preparing ahead of time, stop here, turn off heat, and cover.)


Add spinach, and mix.
Add paneer, mix, and cook for a few minutes.
Taste, and add more (1/4 tsp) shiokoji as necessary.
Ready to serve.

  • If your pot for blanching spinach or prep bowl to cool spinach is not large, blanch spinach in two or three batches. Putting too much spinach lowers the water's temperature, which means it takes longer to cook spinach and consequently damages color and texture or leaves, and also leads to greater loss of nutrients.
  • No salt or baking soda needs to be added to boiling water to blanch spinach. Besides leaving some sodium in the vegetable, unless you make the water very salty, the effect of retaining color of leafy greens is not realized. Baking soda turns water alkaline, which helps to make greens vivid but at the same time promotes loss of Vitamin C in the vegetable. 
  • Only finely chopping (not pureeing) spinach is to retain the vegetable's fresh taste and bright color. Spinach with stems is especially good for a clean taste. Using fresh tomato also ensures the bright color of spinach in the final dish.
  • Blanching and chopping spinach can be done ahead of time, even a day in advance.
  • Nutrition figures above are based on store-bought paneer containing 5 mg sodium per 30 g.
  • When less paneer (100 g) is used for this recipe (shown in photo at right), nutrition figures per serving (1/4 recipe) are as follows:
    150 calories; 6.9 g protein; 11.3 g fat; 6.0 g carbohydrate; 3.3 g net carbs; 50 mg sodium; 21 mg cholesterol; 2.7 g fiber
  • Shiokoji is a salt substitute. If not available, use 1/4 tsp salt. When salt is used, sodium intake would increase by around 35-120 mg per serving (1/4 recipe), depending on salt type and brand. 

(Last updated: January 30, 2018)

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