Paneer Palak with Cumin Rice – A Bright Green Dish for a Colourful Celebration

Indian food and I have only recently become friends.

I am probably very much in the minority here, but I simply do not see the appeal of butter chicken, or its paneer variation.

Indian food and I have a much cosier relationship now because of two discoveries; dal is like a thick version of a lentil soup and paneer is actually nothing like un-pressed and unappealing cottage cheese.

Paneer Palak with Cumin Rice

In honour of today’s Indian celebration, Holi, I set out to make my first, real (I hope!) Indian curry. Paneer Palak is a bright green curry of spinach leaves, vibrant spices and paneer that is mellow enough to be enjoyed by all.

I know that the festival of colours is traditionally held to welcome spring. But for the rest of us on the other side of the world, I like to think that it can also say hello to autumn, where a completely different range of colours are slowly seeping into the landscape.

But location doesn’t really matter when we can celebrate Holi with all the other Fiesta Friday-loving folk over at The Novice Gardener, where Angie is this week joined by co-hosts Caroline @Caroline’s Cooking and Elaine @foodbod.

Happy Holi and Fiesta Friday #58, everyone!

Paneer Palak with Cumin Rice

Paneer Palak with Cumin Rice


  • 1 long green chilli (chopped)
  • 2 cm piece of ginger (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 bunches English spinach (roughly chopped)
  • 120ml water (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (divided)
  • 200g paneer (cut into 3cm cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 cups of basmati rice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ½ cups water
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 125 ml pouring cream


  1. Process chilli, ginger, garlic, coriander, garam masala, cumin, half the spinach and half the water (60ml) in a food processor to a rough paste; add more water to loosen if necessary.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a large, deep frying pan over high heat. Add paneer and cook, turning occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel covered plate to drain. Set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee in the same pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes or until softened. Add the spinach paste and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, cream, the remainder 60ml of water and the paneer, and cook for 3 minutes or until the tomatoes are starting to soften. Add remaining bunch of spinach and cook for 3 minutes or until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until fragrant. Add the rice and salt and stir to coat. Add the water, stir briefly, cover with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the rice for 15 to 20 minutes* and the water has been absorbed.  Cover the saucepan with a tea towel, put the lid back on and allow to stand for five minutes. Serve the cumin rice topped with paneer palak.

* Rice should not be cooked for longer than 20 minutes – any longer it will start to turn gluggy.

Recipe by adapted from SBS Food.


About Food Daydreaming

I follow new recipes perfectly the first couple of times and then I pull them apart and put them back together my way. My biggest pet peeve is when I follow a recipe to a tee and then it doesn't turn out the way it should... I end up growling in my kitchen and that's just not right ;)

7 responses to “Paneer Palak with Cumin Rice – A Bright Green Dish for a Colourful Celebration

  1. I am happy to know that you have found yourself a new friend. 😀 This looks really delicious. 🙂

  2. I’m with you on butter chicken! Great blog.

  3. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #58 | The Novice Gardener

  4. I think I need to clarify my “like” on this posting. I can in no way endorse the viewpoint that butter chicken is overrated and anything other than a gift from the heavens, but I wholeheartedly support and appreciate your desire to grow closer with Indian food. As well, the dish looks very tasty.

  5. Funnily enough, I had an urge to get paneer earlier in the week, but it was a different dish (neither the butter one, nor this) that I made. Glad you have found a dish you enjoy, and it looks good. There are so many different Indian dishes around, hopefully you’ll find more! Thanks for bringing to Fiesta Friday

  6. This is one of my favourite Indian dishes – and interesting to see the cream included. Thanks for sharing!

  7. skd

    Delicious homely lunch 🙂

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