What You Need

Paneer (Cheese)

1/2 gal. Whole milk (not UHT milk)

1/4 c. Lemon juice

1/2 tsp. Salt

Cheese cloth

(Alternatively substitute with 1 lb. queso fresco or cojita)



1 (0.25 oz.) packet Yeast

1 c. Warm water

1/4 c. White sugar

3 tbsp. Milk

1 Egg

2 tsp. Salt

4 1/2 c. Flour (bread or all-purpose)

2 tsp. Garlic powder

1/4 c. Butter; melted, plus extra

(Alternatively, you can buy Naan)



3 to 4 lbs. Spinach

1 Chili; minced

5 cloves Garlic; minced

1tsp. Fresh ginger; minced

1 c. Uncooked white rice

1/2 tsp. Cumin

1/4 tsp. Tumeric

1/2 tsp. Chili powder

1/2 tsp. Garam masala

1 Bay leaf

2 tbsp. Vegetable oil

1 Small onion; minced 

2 tbsp. Cream

2 tbsp. Butter

  Serves:  4

  Prep. Time:  2 hours

  Cook Time: ​ 30 minutes

  Difficulty: ​ Moderate

Palak Paneer is a dish you will find on the menu at nearly all Indian restaurants.  Unlike many traditional Indian dishes, this one is not particularly spicy and is not a curry.  If you don’t want to make your own paneer (cheese) you can substitute any slightly soft, fresh cheese, such as queso fresco or cojita.  If you do make your own be sure to buy milk that has not been pasteurized at ultra-high temperatures.

Palak Paneer

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What You Do

1.  To make the paneer (cheese), heat the milk over medium-low heat to just barely a simmer, stirring frequently.  Do not let the milk boil or scorch on the bottom.  When it’s ready, the milk should look foamy and/or steamy.

2.  Remove the milk from heat, stir in lemon juice, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes.  The milk should separate into curds (white globs) and whey (thin yellow liquid).  If it does not separate add 2 to 3 more
tablespoons lemon juice and wait a few more minutes.  If it still does not separate you may have purchased milk that was pasteurized at ultra-high temperature (sometimes labeled UTH).  This milk will not separate and won’t work for this recipe.

3.  Set a strainer or colander over a large bowl and line it with the cheesecloth.  Pour the curds and whey mixture through the strainer/colander.  Let stand for about 5 minutes to keep draining and cool.

4.  Gather the cheesecloth around the corners and edges, keeping all of the curds inside, and begin twisting the edges together to squeeze as much excess liquid out as you can.  Be careful not to burn yourself as the liquid will still be fairly hot.  

5.  Open the cheesecloth and loosen the curds; season with salt and toss gently.  Wrap the cheesecloth back around the curds and press them together into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.  

6.  Place the cheese on an inverted plate and place another plate on top.  Put the plates and cheese somewhere that the cheese can drain and the weight the top plate with canned goods or books to press the remaining liquid out of the cheese.  Let stand for at least 30 minutes.

7.  While you are waiting for the cheese to press, start the Naan by proofing your yeast.  Proofing yeast means that you sprinkle the yeast on the warm cup of water and let it sit for 10 minutes.  This allows the yeast to activate and the mixture should start to foam a bit.  It is helpful to do this in the mixing bowl that you will use for the bread dough.

8.  Once the yeast has proofed, mix in the sugar, milk, egg, salt and flour to make a soft dough.  Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes.  If the dough is still sticky, add a bit more flour and knead. Do this until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers.

9.  Transfer the dough to a large, well-oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm spot for an hour. 

10.  Remove the paneer from the cheesecloth, wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator. 

11.  While the dough is rising, remove any thick stems from the spinach and steam until wilted. You can do this in a steamer basket over boiling water or in the microwave.  If you choose to microwave, rinse the spinach leaves and place them in a large, microwave safe bowl.  Cover with a damp paper towel or dishcloth and microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring between, until spinach is wilted.  Be careful of the steam.

12.  In a food processor, puree the steamed spinach with the chili, 1 clove minced garlic (reserving the remaining cloves) and ginger.

13.  Uncover the Naan dough, punch it down, and knead in the garlic powder.  Pinch off golf-ball sized pieces of dough, roll into spheres and place on an oiled tray.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the let the dough rise for another 30 minutes.

14.  Start rice; cook according to package directions or the directions for your rice cooker (if you have one).

15.  Combine cumin, turmeric, chili powder, and garam masala in a bowl.  Add the bay leaf to the mixture.

16.  In a sauce pan, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté the spice mixture and the remainder of
the minced garlic for 1 minute and then add the onion.

17.  Sauté the onion and spice mixture for approximately 3 minutes and add the pureed spinach mixture.  Bring the mixture to a steady simmer and then turn the heat to as low as you can.

18.  Take the paneer out of the refrigerator and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

19.  Add the butter, cream, and paneer to the spinach mixture, stirring gently.  Leave on very low heat for another five minutes and then remove from heat.  Cover to keep warm.

20.  Roll out the dough balls to about 8 inches in diameter.  Heat a large skillet and melt a small amount
of butter in it.  

21.  Add a piece of dough and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Brush the uncooked side with melted butter,
flip the Naan over and continue cooking for another 2 to 4 minutes, until puffed and browned.  Remove from the pan and repeat with remaining pieces of Naan.

22.  Transfer the palak and rice to serving dishes and serve hot with fresh Naan.