Silky Spinach with Fresh Cheese

aka Palak Paneer


Food and Wine (Andrew Zimmern)


8 servings


  • 10 cups whole milk
  • 3½ cups heavy cream
  • ⅔ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ½ cup ghee
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • One 5-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated (2 tablespoons)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, ground
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • Three 10-ounce packages thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
  • 1 large tomato, chopped


In the sink, line a large colander with four layers of moistened cheesecloth, leaving 2 inches of overhang. In a very large sauce pan, bring the milk and 2 cups of the cream to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Pour into the colander and let drain for one hour.
Gather the corners of the cheesecloth and twist the curds into a ball, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Tie the cheesecloth, then transfer the curds to a work surface with the twisted end the side. Set a cutting board on top and weigh it down with heavy skillets or large cans. Let the curds stand until firm and dry, about 15 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth and cut the cheese into 1-inch pieces.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat ¼ cup of the ghee until shimmering. Season the cheese with salt and add half of it to the skillet. Cook over moderate heat, turning often, until the cheese is golden on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining cheese.
Add the remaining ¼ cup of ghee and the onion into the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric, coriander, chili powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the spinach and tomato and cook, stirring, until warm, about 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1½ cups cups of cream and 1 cup of water and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is evaporated, about five minutes. Fold in the cheese, season with salt and white pepper and serve.


  • The precooked cheese can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Serve with roti for a meal.