Saag Paneer

I’m addicted to Indian food. Curries, tandoori, dals — sometimes they’re absolutely necessary.

Today in my fridge, time was ticking for the half pound of spinach left over from last week’s CSA box. I needed to use it. I had yogurt, cream and almost everything else for saag paneer. I drove to the international market and picked up what I didn’t have — paneer and more spinach.

I’ve been working for years on saag. Most recipes fail the complexity test. They’re too bland and the greens taste flat. The following is a friend’s recipe that I’ve tweaked about a half dozen times, adjusting the spice combination and trying to deepen the flavor.


Tonight I added a cup of cilantro to the spinach and blended them together in the food processor. And, I increased the amount of ginger. Next time I won’t change a thing.

Saag paneer addicts out there: let me know what you think.

Saag Paneer (Spinach Curry with Indian Cheese)

24 ounces spinach, frozen or fresh
1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems, plus more for garnish
5 tablespoons ghee (vegetable oil also works)
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste (found in a jar at international markets)
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne (depending on how hot you like it)
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cups plain whole milk yogurt, whipped with a whisk
3/4 cups half and half
12 ounces paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garam masala

Boil spinach in 1/4 cup of water until wilted. Blend spinach and cilantro together in a blender or food processor.

Heat ghee or oil over medium heat in a large (5 quart or so) sauce pan. Saute onions until soft and light brown. Add ginger/garlic paste, ginger and cayenne. Stir quickly and saute for about 2 minutes. Lower heat. Slowly add yogurt. Once incorporated, add flour to thicken.

Add spinach and cilantro blend. Mix and simmer for 15 minutes or so. (Optional: lightly fry paneer in about 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat until light brown). To the saag, slowly add half and half. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Gently stir in paneer, salt and garam masala. Cover and simmer over low heat until flavors are blended, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with rice, preferably basmati, or naan.

Serves 6.


3 Responses to “Saag Paneer”

  1. June 21, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    That’s awesome you have a nice saag paneer recipe!!

  2. 2 Garrett
    August 3, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I’m going to try this. Saag paneer is a difficult one to master, and takes a lot of tinkering to get it the way I want. I think the cilantro will be key in making taste just right. Thanks

    • August 5, 2011 at 8:20 pm

      Let me know how it turns out. And please, write back with any modifications that improve this. I’ve also tried adding some mustard greens, which adds a bit more complexity.

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