Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer

Todays world is undeniably obsessed with health and fitness, especially when it comes to what we eat. From organic produce and protein supplements to weight loss pills and meal planning apps, food culture is very concerned with what to eat. But with the explosion of this market we have seen what feels like every. possible trend of healthy food what’s next? What if there was something that we’ve known about all along, that’s stood the test of time and continues to be a delicious and healthy meal?

Introducing…Palak Paneer!

What is Palak Paneer! Palak Paneer is a traditional Indian dish that is made from puréed spinach and cubed cottage cheese. In fact, “palak” in Hindi directly translates to spinach in English. The dish is served hot, usually with a side of Indian bread or Basmati rice. There are two main components to the dish, namely the spinach gravy and the paneer pieces. The gravy base is made from sautéed spinach which is blended with onion, tomato (sometimes), and spices such as cumin, green peppers, ginger, garlic, and garam masala. Adding cream to the gravy, which is commonly done, gives the base a lighter and fluffier texture. Paneer is closely related to cottage cheese, with a similar flavor and consistency. In this dish, the paneer is cut into large cubes and carefully fried so the sides become a pleasant light brown. After the gravy is ready and heated up in a pan, the paneer cubes are added and stirred to complete the dish.

Why is Palak Paneer Healthy?
Palak Paneer is a great choice for anyone on the fitness spectrum and concerned with a healthy lifestyle; not only can it help with weight loss, but it can also be very beneficial for putting on healthy muscle. Palak Paneer’s
base of spinach is a well-known powerhouse for producing iron, which is an essential part of a healthy diet. Iron helps to keep energy levels high, facilitate everyday bodily functions, and even helps boost memory retention. Iron deficiency, also known as anemia, is linked to general fatigue, stomach pain, and a higher susceptibility to infections. But spinach’s high iron content isn’t the only benefit of this vegetable. At only 7 calories a cup, spinach works wonders for those looking to lose weight with a caloric deficit. Bursting with vitamins, minerals, and fibre, as well as minute traces of carbs and fats, the spinach component of the dish is sure to satisfy anyone looking after their health. Add paneer and you’re golden!

Paneer is also a versatile ingredient in a healthy kitchen. As a rich source of calcium, paneer helps strengthen and maintain our bones, and is a crucial supplement for our nervous and muscular systems. One of the risks of
insufficient calcium intake is osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weakened and the risk of fracture
dramatically increases. Studies indicate that calcium may also help prevent or protect against diseases like cancer and diabetes. On top of paneer’s benefits from its calcium content, this Indian cheese is also incredibly protein dense  100 grams of paneer roughly contains 18.3 grams of protein, making this ingredient rival chicken, fish, and other protein supplements. In fact, paneer and cottage cheese even produce significant amounts of whey and casein protein, which are a major part of protein shakes.

What is the difference between Paneer and Cottage Cheese?
Despite paneer and cottage cheese being closely related, there are a few key differences. Anil Gupta from In House Recipes reports that while the two options have a similar taste, the consistency is quite distinct. North
American cottage cheese is quite dense with water, giving it a mushier and greasier texture than paneer. This can be attributed to the draining process associated with each ingredient. Although both start from
fermenting milk and draining it, cottage cheese is strained for a short time, resulting in its higher liquid content, whereas paneer is strained for hours rather than minutes, making it more firm.

What to eat with Palak Paneer?
Palak Paneer as a dish is often served with rice or bread to accompany it. Typical sides include white Basmati rice, naan, and chapati or roti. It is a dish best served hot, so side dishes are appropriately heated as well. A
common garnish that goes with the dish is chopped raw onion. This provides a fresh and exciting topping for an already delicious dish. Adding coriander is also an option.

If you are concerned with the health value of Palak Paneer, a good suggestion would be to eat citrus fruit or a Vitamin C supplement after the meal. Experts point out that calcium, found in paneer but also in spinach,
can actually reduce the absorption of iron by the body when eaten together. The bioavailability of this necessary mineral is lessened when in the presence of calcium. So, we suggest pairing the dish with a citrus fruit or form of Vitamin C, as this improves the body’s uptake of iron. Onion also contains Vitamin C.

What is the difference between Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer?
Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer are almost identical dishes, and even restaurants and people in Indian cuisine confuse the two. Put simply, Palak in Hindi translates to spinach, but Saag translates to leafy greens. These
leafy greens include mustard greens and collard greens, and this is what separates Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer. The base for the former is made purely from spinach, while the latter can be made from any variety of leafy greens.

Palak Paneer in the Media
Twitter was recently the site of a contentious debate among foodies in India. A popular food blogger Meena, from Red Plate Chronicles, posted a picture of Palak Paneer combined with Idli, a popular South Indian
delicacy. Users from around the world quickly expressed their love and distaste for this combination, sparking controversy over originality with food. Some users expressed delight at this unique transformation of two
iconic Indian dishes, yet others felt that it was improper. As far as we know, Palak Paneer is a delicious dish that is still popular today for its great taste and health benefits!