Easy Butter Paneer With Spinach

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Paneer makhani, or butter paneer, is a staple in America's Indian restaurants for a reason: it's hard to beat chunks of fresh cheese in a creamy, buttery tomato sauce. It's also drop-dead simple to make at home, and a little spinach makes it more of a one-dish meal with some rice or poofy flatbread on the side.

The only spice you need for the tomato sauce is cinnamon, but dried fenugreek leaves make a wonderful addition to the sauce, adding a subtle bitter-herbal flavor to balance out all the sweet tomato and cream. But you can skip 'em if you have to; this recipe is plenty satisfying as-is.

Recipe adapted from Floyd Cardoz.

Why this recipe works:

  • Fresh produce and a relatively moderate amount of butter and cream make this dish taste lighter and more lively than restaurant versions.
  • Blanching and draining spinach before adding it to the sauce prevents the dish from getting watered down.
  • With only minimal spices, this is an easy entry to Indian home cooking.

Easy Butter Paneer With Spinach

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About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 4
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:30 minutes
Special equipment:Blender
This recipe appears in: Quick and Easy Butter Paneer With Spinach
Rated:

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 (3-inch) knob ginger, chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably "fire roasted"
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons crushed fenugreek leaves, toasted (optional)
  • 1 bunch spinach blanched, drained, and chopped (or 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained)
  • 1 pound paneer, diced into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Procedures

  1. 1

    In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, then stir in onions, ginger, and jalapeno. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and just begin to take on color, 5 to 7 minutes.

  2. 2

    Add canned tomatoes, cinnamon, and honey. Press on tomatoes with a wooden spoon to break them apart and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened with only a little liquid poking through the tomatoes and onions, 10 to 15 minutes.

  3. 3

    Transfer sauce to blender (or use an immersion blender) and carefully
    puree on high speed until very smooth, about 1 minute. Wipe saucepan clean and pour sauce through a fine mesh strainer back into pot. Add salt and cream to taste, and fenugreek if using.

  4. 4

    Stir spinach into sauce, then fold in paneer, taking care not to break up the cubes of cheese. Let spinach and paneer warm through for 5 minutes. Stir in half of cilantro, sprinkle with remaining cilantro, and serve.

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