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 for a palak paneer because of its look. However, it is not the same. This recipe most resembles the Hyderabadi paneer recipe, but the cooking differs.

You can enjoy this for 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 this dish’s gravy is full of green because of spinach and coriander, the dish got the name 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.

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. Coriander is also added in the end and cooked for a minute. However, the whole dry spices are sometimes removed from the pan, and 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 the 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 by 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 less). 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, 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 use 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.

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 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. Instead, you can make this dish using corn kernels, mushrooms, cauliflower, baby corn, potatoes, or soya chunks.

What should I use in place of cream and yoghurt to make 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. The list is endless: Paneer Lababdar, paneer achari, paneer kadhai, chole paneer, shahi paneer, and Matar paneer.