Saag Paneer is a classic Indian curry spinach recipe with paneer cubes which are stewed together until thick and creamy with coconut milk in under an hour.
Indian Food is one of my favorite new sections on the blog, including favorite recipes like Chicken Korma, Vegetable Biryani, Chicken Tikka Masala and Easy Tandoori Chicken.
Saag Paneer Recipe
Saag Paneer is actually a dish I wasn’t interested in trying at first based only on the looks of the dish. It wasn’t visually appealing and the beautiful red/orange/coral colors of many Indian dishes are so much more beautiful I actually hesitated even bringing it to the blog at all. But, it is DELICIOUS.
Delicious in my book trumps pretty, so here it is in its cube and green sauce glory. But a bite or two served over some rice and you, my friend, will be in heaven. The warm curry spices, the creaminess of the coconut milk and spinach cooked down to a luxuriously rich sauce.
I’m not even sad I used paneer in this dish even though my husband lobbied for halloumi. We are complete suckers for halloumi cheese because you can toss slices into a skillet and brown them without melting them. Its like the delicious edge cheese on a quesadilla, but its ALL edge cheese.
The paneer actually works better in this recipe though as its a softer texture. Since halloumi tends to be more rubbery it would be a bit off putting here.
What is in Saag Paneer?
Saag Paneer is a classic Indian curry spinach (or other bitter greens) recipe with lightly browned paneer cubes which are stewed together until thick and creamy with coconut milk in under an hour.
What is the difference between Palak paneer and Saag Paneer?
Palak is punjabi for “spinach” so Palak Paneer means Spinach Paneer while Saag Paneer can stand for any number of greens that are normally used in a saag preparation including spinach, mustard, kale, turnip…etc.
What is in a Saag?
Saag is a classic Indian dish classically made with paneer or chicken covered in spinach, mustard leaves, kale or turnip greens and spices.
Is paneer cheese similar to halloumi?
While both are Indian Cheeses that may at first look similar, paneer cheese is more crumbly with a saltier and wetter texture while halloumi cheese is firm, slightly rubbery and browns very well in a pan without melting.
What to serve with Saag Paneer? We love to serve Saag Paneer over cilantro basmati rice with naan bread. If we add a bit of heat from chilis then a cool raita also helps round out the dish.
- 1 pound spinach chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek
- 4 tablespoons ghee if not available use butter
- 12 ounces paneer cut into small 1/2" cubes
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
- Add the spinach and fenugreek to boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Drain well, squeezing out as much liquid as possible before chopping the spinach finely.
- Add the ghee to a pan and fry the paneer cubes until lightly browned then remove from pan.
- Add in the onions, garlic and ginger to the ghee and cook on medium heat, stirring and cooking until wilted and translucent.
- Add in the spinach, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne pepper, kosher salt and coconut milk along with the browned paneer.
- Cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until the coconut milk has cooked down resulting in a thick green spinach sauce.
Sorry.. but coming ftom north india I have to say that Coconut milk is never an ingredient for saag or Palak paneer recipe.
It’s just strange version of the original recipe.
Amazing! My first Saag and it turned out wonderfully…thanks for such a great recipe
Gorgeous. And you explain the steps excellent. I make this recipe a few times a year. Halloumi is the best alternative, since I can’t find paneer 🙁
Sabrina, do bring more deliciousness to the table. Greets Sjef
This is an amazing recipe! Have made it multiple times and it always pleases!
I’ve made this recipe a few times now and it gets rave reviews every single time!
So simple, and so very delicious. So glad I found it. Thanks for sharing!
I’m happy to know it’s such a hit, Allison. Thanks for the 5 stars.
Naan ‘bread’? That’s like saying, ‘serve with apple fruit’ and a ‘baguette bread’.
Unfortunately, the main taste came from the mint and coriander chutneys. The dish itself was fairly tasteless, which is very odd, particularly given the freshness of my spices.
Feel free to adjust the seasoning more to your liking next time.
bland at best. I was really excited but this dish was very underwhelming
I followed the recipe precisely. The fenugreek leaves made it too bitter. I used it as directed (cooking, not overheating) and correct measurements. Fenugreek can be found in Asian food stores; also named methi leaves. I was skeptical about using coconut milk, esp. the amount. This makes the dish very heavy and coconut milk has such a distinct taste that I normally don’t taste in this dish. Also, the amount of cheese seemed to be too much for this dish. It was overpowering and I think would be best when it is complementary to the spinach. When in doubt, I’d check other similar recipes but didn’t do that this time.
This has always been my favorite Indian dish, so I tried it. I followed the recipe very closely… and it wasn’t as good as I had hoped, although it smelled great. I think I might have used a little less than a pound of spinach, so it could have used more spinach (usually at Indian restaurants there’s a much higher spinach to paneer ratio), but other than that it wasn’t as flavorful as I had hoped, and it wasn’t hot at all. Sometimes at Indian restaurants they make food a little more bland than I’d like to appeal to more people – I don’t mind the mild side of hot, but I at least need some heat. I ended up adding in some salt and a bit of my own homemade spice mixture and it was delicious, so it didn’t need a LOT, but cooked as is it was a little lacking. What did I miss? Next time I will add in some ingredients I’ve seen in other palak or saag paneer recipes to get it more spicy like coriander and a diced serrano chile pepper, I’d double the amount of garlic, ginger, salt and spinach. Any other suggestion to get it a little spicier, hotter and saltier?
If you’re looking for it to be spicier, adding chilies is definitely the way to go. I’d add them in with the garlic and cook for at least 30 seconds. You can use dried chili flakes or fresh chilis minced. Enjoy!
oh my goodness! this is so yummy. i used tofu instead of the cheese….amazing and a bit healthier i think.
Thanks for the tip!
Cannot find fenugreek leaves. How much fenugreek ground would you substitute?
I would substitute with mustard greens instead. Enjoy!
When I made this, I couldn’t find fenugreek or mustard greens, so I did a mix of spinach, collard greens and kale. It was delicious! I’ve made it both with extra firm tofu and with queso panela when I couldn’t find paneer (I later learned how ridiculously easy it is to make paneer and now I make my own). I have also learned that as many people as there are in the world are as many ways as there are to make a dish.
Play with it! Make it your own!
Yes, having fun and playing around with it really makes it your own. Glad you enjoyed it.
Could you use regular cow milk for it
I would suggest using heavy cream instead of milk.
Halloumi (greek: ????????) is NOT an indian cheese , it is a cheese produced in cyprus by the greek cypriots, please do not provide false information. Also, the recipe is amazing and I’m happy that I found it , because ever since I tried that dish in an indian restaurant I loved it!
“Halloumi or haloumi is a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, and sometimes also cow’s milk. It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled. This property makes it a popular meat substitute.
Milk source: Sheep, Goat
Country of origin: Cyprus” Wikipedia
I am dying to make those BUT I’m allergic to coconut 🙁 what would you suggest as a substitute?
Oh no! I’ve not tested it but you could try substituting with soy milk or yogurt instead. Good luck!
I’m having trouble finding dried fenugreek- do you use the dried fenugreek leaves? I found ground fenugreek but wasn’t sure if that would work?
Yes, dried fenugreek leaves. 🙂
If you can find any Asian or Middle Eastern marketplace, they sell Sadaf brand spices, and that’s a commonly sold variety – dried fenugreek. Even some health food stores and higher end markets that aren’t specifically Asian or Middle Eastern carry this brand, so it’s probably around wherever you live if you look a little bit.
I can’t wait to make this! Can I use Fenugreek seeds?
You can but it’ll change the flavor. Be sure not to overheat the seeds and they tend to get bitter. Enjoy!
Can I use fresh fenugreek?
Yes, but use 2 tablespoons worth as dried have a more potent flavor.
Thank you for the wonderful recipe! My mom and I really enjoyed it. I will be making this again 🙂
So glad you both enjoyed it!
I love this! I was wondering how to make a lower calorie version without sacrificing the taste. But I guess it’s better to just indulge. lol
I haven’t tested it but I would say, I like your idea of indulging every once in a while.
Hello! I’m thinking of using this recipe for Thanksgiving, and want to cook it the night before, to heat up Thanksgiving day. Any suggestions on modifications, or should I just make as written and heat up in the oven with all the rest of the veggie sides? Thanks in advance!
You can certainly make ahead of the time. Personally, I would do everything except fry the paneer the day before. It will have more of the delicious crisp if you fry the day you serve.
The dish really does look delicious, and going to try it tomorrow. but,I got distracted. You mention in your post that Paneer & haloumi are both Indian cheeses. This isn’t accurate, because haloumi is from Cyprus not India. Also, haloumi is the salted one and Paneer salt less. Though it was worth to mention it.
Kind regards, suat
Thanks so much for pointing that out. Sometimes I get so excited about the cheeses, I get mixed up. Let me know how the dish turns out if you make it!
Could I use frozen spinach? I was planning to make but forgot spinach at the store.
No, it’ll release too much liquid into the dish.
You CAN use froz3n just defrost in the microwave (2mins on high) the put in a sieve a squeeze mightily, as it cools you can use your hands & squeeze till satisfied. I use this method for all sorts of spinach dishes & reccomend squeezing blanched fresh spinach as well.
Love this recipe! So easy to make and the instructions are spot on. The only change I make is to double the cayenne pepper to up the heat. Thanks for sharing!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it and were able to customize it more to your flavor palette.
Very good! Love the flavors in the dish.
So glad you enjoyed it, Ashley! Thanks for the 5 stars.
I think this is almost the same as Filipino dish called laing though it uses dried taro leaves. This one looks good also.
I hope you enjoy it!
you mean palak panner right saag paneer is not a think…
Palak paneer is made using mixed greens. Saag means spinach.
They are the same dish, different greens is the only difference.
It doesn’t say when to add back in the cooked spinach.
Must have been a glitch in the recipe card. It should be added back in at step 5. Just updated the recipe card so hopefully it sticks this time.
Can you substitute mustard greens for fenugreek leaves?
My husband and I had this for the first time just the other day!
I’ve never heard of this before, but I am sure going to try it!
I have to put this on my menu! I really need to try this Saag Paneer!
I am obsessed with flavors in this dish! So delicious!
One of my favorite things is to try new and exciting dishes! This will be a new one for me and I am excited!
Such a delicious classic, this looks awesome!
I’ve never tried this before but it looks great! Sounds like it has lots of flavor!