I claim that my Palak Paneer is way better than what is served at some of the Punjabi cuisine restaurants. And, my work on this recipe over the years has somewhat earned me this bragging right. One of the most essential aspect of a good Palak Paneer recipe is that the spinach gravy should be luscious and completely free of fibrous stalks and stems of Spinach. For me, anything lesser than this is completely unacceptable. I simply refuse having a green goop being served as Palak Paneer.
Pressure cook the Palak or Spinach leaves with its stem with Salt and 1/4 cup of water. Let it whistle for 3-4 times before taking it off the heat.
Once it cools, open the lid and blend the entire content into a smooth puree.
While you may keep it aside to cool off completely before running it into your mixer, otherwise, if you are in a hurry, blend it hot without the lid, but covering the mixing jar with a clean kitchen towel.
This would allow to escape the steam and prevent the splattering of the green slurry everywhere around. Believe me, it's a pain to clean a green mess, as it tends to stick!! :( Experience speaks here....
Anyways, once its done, keep this puree aside. Make a puree of the Tomato, Onion, Garlic and Ginger.
Heat the ghee/mustard oil in a pan. Keep the heat on medium and temper the ghee or oil with Cumin seeds, Black Cumin Seeds, dried Red Chilies and Asafoetida or Hing.
Once they start splattering, add the puree of Onion and Tomato in it. Fry till the tomatoes-onion mix loose the raw texture. It should also reduce in amount
Now, add Ketchup, Cumin Powder, Coriander Powder, Garam Masala & Kasoori Methi to the Onion mix. Fry till you can see some of the fat separating from the edges of the masala mix.
Now, add the Palak or Spinach puree into the fried masala and mix everything well. Let it simmer for next 15-20 minutes on medium-high heat. Keep stirring it once in a while to prevent it sticking at the bottom. You may put the lid while it simmers as it tends to splatter and messes everything around.
Once you see that the water content has been reduced, fry the rest of on high heat for 2-3 minutes.
Now, add the Paneer or Cottage Cheese cubes and some cream. Mix everything well and let it bubble-boil once. Turn off the heat and serve.
Note, I shallow fried the Paneer cubes in a teaspoon of ghee before putting them in the gravy. That is how my family prefers. However, this is totally optional.