Hariyali Paneer Masala or green masala paneer is a paneer recipe with a green base. It is spicy and flavorful with thick gravy. It is a unique recipe often mistaken as a palak paneer because of its look. However, it is not the same. This recipe most resembles the Hyderabadi paneer recipe, but cooking differs.

You can enjoy this in lunch or dinner with naan, paratha, roti or bread. This dish is also ideal to have in a tiffin box.

The name for this dish comes from the Hindi word “Hariyali“.  Hariyali, in Hindi, means the colour ‘green’. Since the gravy of this dish is complete of green colour because of spinach and coriander in it, the dish got the name of Hariyali Paneer.

Palak paneer has the same colour as well. Therefore, people often confuse both dishes with each other. But the ingredients and methods of making both are different. However, both dishes are a part of authentic Punjabi cuisine.

Now let’s see what we need to make this unique paneer recipe.

Ingredients For Hariyali Paneer

  • Paneer – The star ingredient of this recipe. There are different types of variety for paneer available in the market. You can choose whichever you want or can use homemade paneer. Use soft paneer for rich texture.
  • Vegetables – Spinach and coriander are the ingredients that make the base of the recipe and are also the ingredients that provide the green colour to the gravy. Use fresh and tender spinach leaves, removing the stems. Onion and tomato are also forming the base gravy. Apart from these, ginger and garlic provide the base flavours.
  • Spices – A handful of whole dry spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin seeds are used here. We also use salt, red chilli powder, green chilli, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and garam masala for flavours. Use Kasuri methi or fennel seeds to make the gravy more flavorful and aromatic.

Making Hariyali Paneer Masala

This recipe is less fussy but delicious. There are variations to the method of cooking for this recipe. Let’s have a look at them. There will be two parts to preparing the dish.

Making The Paste

The whole dry spices, ginger & garlic, and green chillies are sauteed in hot cooking oil. It will release the aroma and flavours. We will be keeping the dry spices in the paste as well.

Then we’ll be sauteeing the onions until they are soft. Next comes the tomato and spinach. We are only going to cook them until the spinach turns soft. This paste will be thick; hence we will not be adding any water. Besides, the water content in spinach is enough.

Transfer the ingredients into a mixer jar after that. Also, add coriander to it. Then, grind them to a puree and keep it aside.

Cooking the Paneer Gravy

Heat oil in the pan and place paneer cubes in it. Add coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, and salt. Mix them and cook until they get fried. Now add the puree to it. Mix it. Also, add 1/2 glass of water to it. Cover and cook until the paneer is soft.

We can also add paneer directly to the gravy and cook them until soft. Or we can even marinate the paneer, roast it separately and then use it in the gravy. However, the method we are using will ensure more flavours in paneer because they remain bland in taste otherwise most of the time.

Now all that remains is to put a lid and cook it until the paneer is soft. After that, the recipe is done.

Hariyali Paneer Vs Paneer Hyderabadi

Paneer Hyderabadi and Paneer Hariyali are very similar. In paneer Hyderabadi variation, making the gravy is the same, with green chillies in it. Coriander is also added in the end and cooked for a minute. However, the whole dry spices are sometimes removed from the pan, and then other ingredients are added.

Fresh cream and whisked curd are also added. This variation will require more water than the previous one. We will not be adding water at once but in stages.

Hariyali Paneer Gravy Without Spinach & Coriander

The third method to make this is entirely free of spinach and coriander. Instead, the green gravy is due to green tomatoes, fenugreek leaves, capsicum, green garlic, and spring onion.

First, marinate the paneer with lemon juice and spices for 15-20 minutes. Simultaneously, boil the tomatoes, cook, and strain. Now saute all the remaining ingredients. Then blend tomatoes and then the sauteed ingredients. Cook marinated paneer in heated oil. After that, add the puree and cook. Add salt and remaining spices. Mix and cook for 5 minutes, and the dish is ready.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the gravy taste bitter?

The bitterness might be because of spinach. It has high levels of a compound known as oxalic acid that causes a bitter taste. If it is tiny in proportion, that won’t be a problem.

Though you can remove the bitterness from blanching the spinach leaves, if you blanch them, then you do not need to cook them separately before making the paste. If the gravy still tastes bitter, adding fresh cream will fix it.

What to use instead of cream?

If you do not have cream, you can substitute it with milk fat (malai), coconut milk/cream, cashew paste, or even flavourless milk solids.

Is it necessary to cook everything for the paste?

It will be better to cook the ingredients for the paste. Do it if you have time. But if you don’t, then to make the paste, use mint and coriander, excluding the spinach (or using it in less amount). Then blend them with onion, ginger, garlic, and green chillies without sauteeing them. And use the paste directly in the cooking later.

Can this dish be in non-veg variation?

Yes, you can replace paneer with boiled eggs or chicken. However, if you do not want to boil chicken beforehand, then cooking this in a pressure cooker will be advisable for fast cooking. Also, use boneless chicken for it.

We recommend first marinating the chicken with the spices, lemon juice, and curd for at least half an hour if you have time. Then slowly cook it for 20-30 minutes on low flame.

Can I make it without onion and garlic?

It is possible to make this gravy without onions and garlic. To do that, blend the spinach and coriander with ginger, garlic, and chillies (fennel seeds, too, if you are using them). Then saute the whole dry spices in oil/butter, adding tomato puree afterwards. Cook until we eliminate the rawness. Then add the blended ingredients and the remaining spices and paneer in the end.

If you want to add cream, then add the ingredient at last.

Can I make it without using spinach?

You can make it without using spinach. However, the texture and colour of the gravy will be drastically different. Also, the thickness of the gravy will be affected.

Can we refrigerate the paneer after grilling it in spices?

Although it is possible to store the paneer after grilling and before cooking it with gravy, we would not advise you for the same. The paneer will lose its soft texture as they lose moisture once they are frozen after the grilling. The paneer may feel like rubber in your mouth after you cook them.

Can we prepare the gravy beforehand and cook it later with the paneer?

Yes, it is one way of cooking the dish. However, it will be better to cook it before you eat, if you have the time. Eating frozen gravy is not that healthy. Also, the taste may be different too. Remember not to use gravy two days later.

How can I make hariyali paneer masala vegan?

If you are a vegan or wish to have this recipe in the vegan version, you should replace the paneer with tofu. Also, skip using any fresh cream or curd. You can even make this dish using corn kernels, mushrooms, cauliflower, baby corn, potatoes, or soya chunks.

What should I use in place of cream and yoghurt for making the gravy rich in texture?

You can use cashew paste to get the rich and silkier texture of the gravy instead of cream or yoghurt. If not cashew, then almonds are also doable. Or use a little bit of both for the paste.

I am not a fan of intense flavours of dry spices. What shall I do?

In such a case, you can remove the whole dry spices after sauteeing and not blend them with other ingredients. As a result, it will provide the gravy with its flavours and not be too strong for the taste.

What can I have hariyali paneer masala with?

Apart from roti or chapati, you can have it with naan, garlic naan, kulcha, bread, rumali roti, pita bread, or even rice, if you prefer.

Indian cuisine has a plethora of paneer dishes. Paneer Lababdar, paneer achari, paneer kadhai, chole paneer, shahi paneer, Matar paneer, and the list is endless.