Palak Paneer Makhani

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A lightweight version of an amazing vegetarian Indian recipe, this paneer palak makhani is made with dairy-free cream. It’s also not too spicy (unless you want it to) and super easy to make in 30 minutes.

I’ve been testing lots of vegetarian Indian recipes lately because I almost completely renounced meat these days and this palak paneer makhani recipe is something that I could have any day of the week.

It’s basically a recipe for paneer curry with spinach in it, hence the “palak” in the title. Paneer makhani is also known as paneer butter masala, and it’s generally made with lots of butter and double (heavy) cream, which results in a rich, super satisfying curry. 

But even though it tastes amazing, paneer butter masala also has a lot of calories. So I decided to make a lightweight version, a sort of skinny paneer makhani, but not skinny enough to lose all the goodness. 

I reduced the number of calories by cutting out the double cream completely and replacing it with a dairy-free alternative to cream. I used a soya-based one, but you can also use cashew cream (store-bought or you can make your own). I also cut down on the butter and only used 20 grams of it, which is enough to still feel the creaminess. 

You can, of course, use double cream instead of the plant-based alternative if you’re not bothered by the calories. But it’s not all about calories — I also feel that using plant-based cream in curries makes them lightweight somehow, which I like a lot. 

What do you need to make this palak paneer makhani recipe?

To make the recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • A block of paneer cheese — paneer cheese is a kind of fresh cheese that’s really common in India. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t melt, so it’s the perfect ingredient for vegetarian curries. Its dense texture also complements strong spices beautifully. You’ll need 200 g (7 oz.) of paneer cheese for this recipe.
  • 2 tbsps Greek yoghurt — I used a non-fat version, but feel free the use the good, full-fat kind if you want.
  • 20 g (1 tbsp) butter 
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 tbsp root ginger, grated
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes (or more if you want it spicier)
  • 1 400g/14 oz. tin chopped tomatoes 
  • 250 ml (1 cup) dairy-free cream alternative
  • 30 g (1 ounce) cashew nuts, ground
  • 1 400g/14 oz. tin chickpeas
  • 200 g (7 oz.) baby spinach leaves 

You can serve this paneer curry with rice or naan bread. If you don’t have/like paneer cheese, you can use a paneer cheese substitute such as halloumi, but keep in mind that that’s a type of salty cheese. Another alternative to paneer cheese is tofu, which would also work in this recipe.

How do you make the spinach paneer curry?

  1. Cut the paneer cheese in 1/2 inch pieces and toss it with 1/2 tbsp curry powder and the yoghurt. Mix well to make sure all pieces are coated in the spicy yoghurt and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan and add the onions. Cook until soft and add the ginger, the rest of the curry powder, garam masala and chilli flakes. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat until fragrant.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, ground cashew, and cream and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Add the paneer, chickpeas and spinach and cook on low heat for 5-6 minutes until the spinach wilts. Season and serve immediately with rice or naan bread (optional).

How to store this spinach curry?

The curry will last for 3-4 days in a covered container in the refrigerator. Re-warm it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. I don’t recommend freezing it because the paneer and the spinach won’t have the same lovely texture anymore. 

If you liked this palak paneer makhani recipe, have a look at some of my other vegetarian recipes:

Easy Vegetarian Swedish Meatballs

Vegan Lentil Soup with Kale

Tagliatelle ai Funghi (Pasta with Mushrooms)

Savoury Muffins with Spinach, Sundried Tomatoes and Feta Cheese

Looking for more delicious inspiration? 😄 Follow Skinny Spatula on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!

Yield: 2

Palak Paneer Makhani

palak paneer in a bowl with naan

A lightweight version of an amazing vegetarian Indian recipe, this paneer palak makhani is made with dairy-free cream. 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 200 g (7 oz) paneer cheese
  • 2 tbsps low fat Greek yoghurt
  • 20 g (1 tbsp) butter
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 tbsp root ginger, grated
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes (or more if you want it spicier)
  • 1 400 g/14 oz. tin chopped tomatoes
  • 250 ml (1 cup) dairy-free cream alternative
  • 30 g (1 ounce) cashew nuts, ground
  • 1 400 g/14 oz. tin chickpeas
  • 200 g (7 oz.) baby spinach leaves

Instructions

1. Cut the paneer cheese in 1/2 inch pieces and toss it with 1/2 tbsp curry powder and the yoghurt. Mix well to make sure all pieces are coated in the spicy yoghurt and set aside.

2. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan and add the onions. Cook until soft and add the ginger, the rest of the curry powder, garam masala and chilli flakes. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat until fragrant.

3. Add the chopped tomatoes, ground cashew, and cream and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

4. Add the paneer, chickpeas and spinach and cook on low heat for 5-6 minutes until the spinach wilts. Season and serve immediately with rice or naan bread (optional).

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 461Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 10.7gCarbohydrates: 23.9gFiber: 6.9gSugar: 8.4gProtein: 20g

Did you make this recipe?

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