Indian Creamy Spinach (Palak Paneer without the Paneer)

Spiced Creamy Spinach (Palak Paneer without the Paneer)

I fell in love with this the first time I tried Northern Indian food. Someone had ordered palak paneer, aloo ghobi and shish kabobs among other mysterious and exotic names  of dishes I could barely remember. We also had naan and tandoori chicken with mint chutney. Back then, all these names went over my head, way too many new words in a foreign language to understand much less remember. Nowadays, after delving into Indian cooking, they make sense. So I get it if the list of food I just rattled out made you skim over because you can’t relate.

Spiced Creamy Spinach (Palak Paneer without the Paneer)

It’s pretty easy once you’ve figured it out. Palak means spinach and paneer is cheese, curd cheese if we wanna get technical. So it’s just spinach cheese or cheese in spinach! Pretty easy, right? I’m not a big fan of this kind of cheese so I left it out (hence the palak paneer without the paneer), but I do love me some spinach. Spinach alfredo pizza from Papa Johns, spinach quiche, spinach and artichoke dip, Greek spinach pie (also called Spanakopita), spinach tacos, spinach lasagna…Spinach is just great.

Spiced Creamy Spinach (Palak Paneer without the Paneer)

I used frozen spinach cause it’s easier than boiling a bulk of spinach leaves down but you can go either way. If you want to do this with the cheese, toss them right in after the puree and heat it up over the stove to mix. You can even switch out paneer cubes for tofu, that works too. As for ghee, if you’re wondering what the heck that is, it’s basically the Indian version of butter. But man, this butter smells so great. To get all authentic, you’ll want to use this, but you could use regular butter or just plain oil.  Ghee is one of my favorite parts about Indian cooking, just melting it makes you feel authentic. You can find it at Indian grocery stores or online.

If you have yet to try palak paneer and you’re wondering what all the fuss is about pureed spinach, it’s really in the spices (and ghee). Pureed spinach by itself, a little gross. Pureed spinach with cheese? A little better. Pureed spinach (with cheese) and spices? Where can I get that?!  Indian food is all about the spices. Now you can cook this at home and after you’ve done it once, it gets easier the next time round.

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Spiced Creamy Spinach (Palak Paneer without the Paneer)

Spiced Creamy Spinach (Palak Paneer without the Paneer)

  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 1 packet (9 oz.) frozen chopped spinach / 1 1/2 lb.fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 dried birds eye chilies / 1 dried chili / 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • Salt to taste


  1. Follow the instructions on the packet of frozen spinach by heating it up in the microwave or cook down fresh spinach in a saucepan just by itself
  2. Strain spinach water from the cooked down spinach
  3. Over medium high heat, saute garlic, ginger, chilies and onions in ghee until aromatic
  4. Lower heat to medium and mix in cumin, coriander, garam masala and yogurt
  5. Add cooked spinach and simmer for 5 minutes
  6. Add tomato sauce and mix thoroughly
  7. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender
  8. Blend the spinach mixture into a puree
  9. Dish and serve hot
A no fuss recipe for slow cooker BBQ pulled chicken. It's literally set and forget until it's time to eat. Serve with coleslaw, pickles and chips!





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  • Reply
    October 10, 2020 at 10:16 AM

    I made this aloo palak and used all ingredients you listed. I’ve seen some recipes add fenugreek, so I did too. Just a bit. It turned out beautifully. Thank you.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 8, 2020 at 10:50 PM

      I’m glad it worked out well for you! Thanks for trying it out, I always get excited when people try out my older, more authentic Asian recipes (they are usually harder).

  • Reply
    June 3, 2020 at 8:20 PM

    I’ve had three variations of this at Indian restaurants. If you don’t like the paneer you might like one of the other variations. There’s also Palak alu and Palak chana. You already know paneer=cheese, then there’s alu which is potato cubes, and there’s chana which are garbanzo beans. They’re all identical except for the extra ingredient. Also sometimes spinich in these dishes is called saag instead of palak.

  • Reply
    Tina Cruz
    August 25, 2017 at 1:09 AM

    This was by far the closest I have ever made to authentic north indian! Loved the recipe! I did not have a few ingredients on hand like yogurt or coriander but I managed to substitute. I used about a cup of sour cream in place of the yogurt and 2 tablespoons of butter. Also I added about 1/2 cup of milk and instead of the tomatoes sauce, I used about 3-4 tablespoons of fire roasted tomatoes. Also I added fenegreek, tumeric, and comino! Also I only blended half of the mixture and it came out awesome! I was worried that it would not taste authentic without the paneer but I was surprised that it came out even better! Thanks for the recipe, I will definitely be added this to my collection!

    • Reply
      Tina Cruz
      August 25, 2017 at 1:10 AM

      Forgot to mention, I added chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts to garnish ! Super yummy!

      • Reply
        The Cooking Jar
        September 2, 2017 at 4:36 PM

        Ooh, I always get excited when someone tries out an old recipe. More so one with crappy pics! I’m surprised sour cream worked! I know greek yogurt might have, but not sour cream! Thanks for trying it, Tina 🙂

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