A little extra hands-off pressing time firms up fresh ricotta into a block that can be cut into paneer-like cheese. Fried in ghee, the crispy, cheesy cubes transform into cheese croutons and are a perfect pair for the warm puree of chile-and-ginger-spiked spinach and cilantro.

March 2022


Credit: Photo by Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Kathleen Cook Varner

Recipe Summary

2 hrs 45 mins
45 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place a 10-inch square of damp double-lined cheesecloth on a clean work surface. Spoon ricotta into center of square. Using your hands, press to shape ricotta into a 5-inch square. Wrap cheesecloth tightly around ricotta, and press to form a 5 1/2-inch square (about 3/4 inch thick). Place wrapped ricotta on a double layer of paper towels. Top with a double layer of paper towels, and weight with a large cast-iron skillet (6 to 8 pounds). Let stand until paneer is firm and set, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours, changing out paper towels after 45 minutes.

  • Unwrap ricotta, and cut into 3/4-inch squares, wiping knife clean after each slice. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium; add ghee. Fry ricotta cubes, flipping once, until lightly browned on 2 opposite sides, 3 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate; set aside.

  • Return same skillet with ghee to heat over medium. Add onion, and cook, stir- ring occasionally, until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, serrano, garam masala, and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Gradually add spinach. Cook, stirring often, until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

  • Transfer spinach mixture to a blender; add cilantro leaves and stems and 1/2 cup water. Remove insert from blender lid, and cover with a kitchen towel. Process until mixture forms a coarse paste, 5 to 10 seconds. Return mixture to skillet over low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened to desired consistency, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in cream, salt, and kasoori methi, if using. Add ricotta cubes. Cover and cook until ricotta is heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro leaves, and serve with basmati rice or flatbread.

Make Ahead

Ricotta can be prepared through step 1, removed from cheesecloth, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerated up to 2 days.


Find kasoori methi at South Asian markets or online at desiclik.com.

Suggested Pairing

Earthy French red: Bernard Baudry Le Domaine Chinon