Palak Paneer

Green spinach & fresh cheese over rice, a real treat in the wilderness

Adapted from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer

Serves 4


1 small red onion, coarsely chopped

4 slices of ginger, 2 inches x 1 inch x 1/8 inch wide

2 T safflower oil

1 t cumin seeds

½  t fennel seeds

2 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles

1.5 t ground coriander

¾ t coarse sea salt

¼ t cayenne

¼ t turmeric

1 x 15oz can of diced tomato

1 ½ lbs frozen spinach

1 lb paneer, diced small (¼ inch cubes)-  see Note

½ cup thick plain yoghurt (We have used both regular whole fat and Greek style whole fat)

Basmati rice, cooked


1)   Combine the onion and ginger in a food processor, and pulse until minced

2)  Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat, add the cumin and fennel seeds and chiles. Cook for 15 seconds, then add the minced onion & ginger. Stir fry this mixture for 5-7 minutes (onion will be lightly browned).

3)   Stir in the coriander, salt, cayenne, and turmeric and cook for 15 seconds. Add the canned tomato and cook for 2-3 minutes.

4)   Add the spinach as it thaws and then cook for 4-6 minutes, use the released liquid to deglaze the pan.

5)    Add the diced paneer and mix in well, cover the pan and simmer for 2-3 minutes

6)   Remove from heat, remove the chiles.  Let cool 5-10 minutes then fold in yoghurt.  It may separate a bit from the heat, that’s okay.

7)   Pour over cooked basmati rice.  Divide equally onto trays and dehydrate at 155F until dry.


Note- Paneer recipe

Adapted from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer


When backpacking, we are almost always calorie-deficient, so we make our paneer with half-and-half vs. whole milk.  Don't be afraid - either way, it is super easy to make paneer.


2 quarts half-and-half –or- 1 gallon whole milk

¼ cup distilled white vinegar


1)   Pour the half-and-half or milk into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Once boiling, stir in the vinegar. Remove from heat & let sit until the cheese and whey separate (about 30 seconds).

2)   Line a colander with a double layer of cheese-cloth. Place the colander in the sink, then pour the cheese and whey mixture into the colander and let drain. Once the cheese is slightly cool, gather the edges of the cloth and fold them over the top to cover.

3)   Fill a heavy pot with water, and set it directly on top of cloth-wrapped cheese in the colander as a weight.  Let sit to press/drain for 3-5 hours, so that nearly all of the moisture is forced out. 

4)   Remove the weight, and unwrap the firm, milky-white cheese. Wrap it in plastic wrap and use immediately, or refrigerate for 1 week.