This simple palak paneer (or saag paneer) is a twist on Indian spinach curry, and is made with easy-to-find feta instead of traditional Indian cottage cheese.
This isn't a traditional palak paneer.
Instead, it's a slightly untraditional bowl of awesomeness.
What Is Palak Paneer? What about Saag Paneer?
Traditional palak paneer is a bright green spinach and cheese Indian curry.
It's generally mild, creamy, and oh-so-tasty.
And the very similar saag paneer is a curry made with greens (like spinach, mustard greens, and broccoli) and cheese.
This recipe is a fusion of both Indian dishes-- it uses spinach (like palak paneer) and strong spices (like saag paneer.)
What is Paneer?
Both palak and saag paneer use Indian paneer-- a type of pressed homemade cottage cheese.
Traditional paneer has a short shelf-life, so it's better to make it yourself than try to buy it. Sadly, even though I have every intention of making Indian paneer-- as of today-- I haven't tried it yet.
And you know what? Not having paneer on hand has stopped me from cooking SO MANY of my favorite curries at home.
But no more!
This version of palak paneer is quick and simple to make, uses only a few easy-to-find spices, and swaps store-bought feta for homemade Indian cottage cheese.
What Spices Do I Need for Palak Paneer?
To make this version of palak paneer, you'll need garam masala.
Garam masala is an easy-to-find Indian spice blend. I've seen it regularly stocked at Kroger and Whole Foods, and you can buy garam masala online.
You'll also need ground turmeric and red chili pepper flakes. Look for those at any grocery store that sells spices.
Can I Add Extra Spinach?
You sure can!
This recipe uses 8 ounces of fresh spinach, but the spinach measurements don't have to be precise.
If you have a bunch of spinach from the garden, go ahead and throw a little more into the curry.
Can I Use Frozen or Canned Spinach Instead of Fresh?
Make sure to thaw your frozen spinach before adding it to the pan. If using canned spinach, drain the can before adding the spinach.
Can I Skip the Tomatoes?
Palak paneer isn't generally served with tomatoes, but I added them one time on a whim and fell in love.
Tomatoes add a little more acidity and flavor to the curry, and now I add them every time.
BUT-- if you're out of tomatoes, don't like tomatoes, or can't eat tomatoes-- go ahead and leave them out.
Why Isn't This Palak Paneer Bright Green?
It's simple-- I added tomatoes.
I know this curry isn't "the right color"-- but it tastes so delicious that I just didn't care!
I Don't Have a Blender-- Can I Still Make This Palak Paneer?
Blending the sauce makes it smooth and creamy, but it'll still be delicious if you can't blend it.
Why Swap Feta for Paneer?
There's a couple of reasons.
One-- Feta has a longer shelf-life than paneer, so you can find it pre-made at the grocery store.
And two-- feta and spinach are ridiculously delicious together.
Learn more about feta in this Feta Cheese Guide from Striped Spatula!
I Made Paneer. Can I Swap it for the Feta in this Palak Paneer?
Of course you can!
And also-- high-five to you!
Can I Leave out the Maple Syrup?
Taste the paneer when it's almost ready. If you'd prefer a sweeter, restaurant-style curry, add a dash of the syrup to sweeten it.
If you like it as is, skip it.
Serve with some rice or naan-- (I like serving it with microwave basmati rice)-- and dig in!
Palak Paneer with Feta (Saag Paneer)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 14 ounces diced tomatoes (1 can) Or use fire-roasted tomatoes
- 8 ounces fresh spinach
- 1 cup milk (or cream)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 8 ounce block of feta, cubed
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
- jasmine or basmati rice, to serve (optional)
- naan, to serve (optional)
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions, garam masala, salt, and chili flakes.
- Cook about 5 minutes, or until the spices become fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, and cook 2-3 more minutes.
- Add the spinach, and cover the pan to let the spinach wilt.
- Once the spinach wilts, use an immersion blender or basin blender to blend the onion, tomato, and spinach mixture.
- Add the milk and turmeric. Stir.
- Add the cubed feta, and cover the pan for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is warm.
- Taste curry. If you prefer it sweeter (like restaurant-style curry), add the maple syrup. Add more salt if bland, or chili flakes if you want it spicier. If it's already too spicy, add a little extra milk.
- Serve warm, with rice or naan if desired.