Easy Spinach Paneer Curry | Authentic Indian Saag Paneer Recipe

This easy spinach and paneer curry recipe is all about the authentic Indian classic, the Saag Paneer. It’s green, it’s cheesy and it’s absolutely awesome!

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Easy Spinach Paneer Curry | Authentic Indian Saag Paneer Recipe

Introduction

If someone were to ask me to name the most uniquely Indian main ingredient, there’s a pretty good chance paneer would be my first answer. There are plenty of other uniquely Indian ingredients, but none quite so prominent, nor quite so satisfying.

That’s not to say that paneer is uniquely Indian. While paneer itself does seem to have originated in India, plenty of other cultures make a very similar kind of cheese.

There’s the far saltier, Cypriate halloumi, hero of the famed halloumi fry and of many a vegetarian burger. And then there’s cottage cheese, their diet-friendly cousin, the not-so-sexy potted cheese known for making us that little bit sexi-er.

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My girlfriend refers to paneer as squeaky cheese. An apt description if ever there has been one.

I note that because I think it’s one of paneer’s biggest selling points. This squeaky cheese has both the firmness and the satisfying bite to be every bit as satisfying a protein as any meat component. And just as filling.

Equally important, as a vegetarian protein, paneer ticks all kinds of useful boxes.

In India, it makes it accessible to people of all backgrounds and beliefs. Elsewhere, it makes it a healthy, tasty option, perfect for the ever-growing health and plant-based movements.

Oh, and …

Squeaky. God-damn. Cheese.

Easy Spinach Paneer Curry | Authentic Indian Saag Paneer Recipe

About the dish

The dish itself is about far more than just the cheese. In fact, as with my recent chicken saag post, this paneer and spinach curry, unsurprisingly, is all about the spinach.

As we’ve already established, saag refers to the spinach itself. More broadly, to any greens at all, and in fact in the pictures here, I used a combination of leftover greens, rather than just spinach.

Just like the paneer – at least the paneer we’re going to make – the spinach lends this dish yet more healthy qualities. We end up with a low calorie, low fat, low sugar, low sodium, vegetarian flavour-fest, which is almost unheard of in my neck of the internet.

And yet I absolutely love it.

Seriously.

I’m totally behind saag paneer. Enough that I’m going to make a lot more recipes with both of these ingredients. Although perhaps not together in future.

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The spices are simple and fragrant. Because that works here.

There are no big, complex flavours with which the spices have to battle for prominence. The dish is simple, relatively light, easy to digest and really rather good for you. It works best when the spices reflect that.

Some saag recipes include tomato. When I do that, I prefer to use chunks, rather than chopped or pureed tomato. I love the sauce as it is and enjoy the extra bite it provides.

In this instance, however, we’re going without. We’re keeping it nice and simple. But by all means experiment with any flavours you want to include.

A quick guide – Easy Spinach Paneer Curry | Authentic Indian Saag Paneer Recipe

First thing’s first, we have to make the paneer! This bit is so much easier than you expect.

In a big ol’ pan, bring 4 litres of milk to the boil. As soon as they get there, add some acid, usually vinegar or lemon juice, and stir everything together until the milk splits into solids.

Strain the liquid away – you can keep it if you like as it has lots of value as a tenderiser – and wrap the solids in a cloth, then strain as much water as you can out of them. I advise doing that under a running cold tap. That might sound counterintuitive, but otherwise you’re going to burn your hands.

Once you’ve strained and strained and strained some more, press the paneer beneath something heavy. You want a thickness suited to chopping into big, tasty bitesize pieces.

Leave it in the fridge to cool and set, then remove and chop into said tasty bitesize pieces. In a hot, oiled pan with some salt, brown the outsides and set aside.

Then we’ll dice up our onions and set them aside with the mustard seeds and a cinnamon stick. We will also make a paste with ginger and garlic and set it aside separately.

We’ll toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan on high heat and grind them into a fine powder. Then we’ll make a spice mix from asafoetida, fenugreek powder and the freshly ground spices.

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We’ll start the cook by caramelising the onions with the mustard seeds and cinnamon stick in an oiled pan with some salt on a medium heat.

After 10 minutes, we’ll add the spice mix and allow it to cook through for two minutes, then we’ll add the paste of ginger and garlic.

After another couple of minutes, we’ll add the greens and a little stock. We’ll stir it all together, before blending it and adding the paneer.

We’ll stew it all on a low heat for 15 – 20 minutes, then adjust the seasoning and serve. I’ve finished with a tiny splash of cream, but that’s totally up to you.

A few final things to remember

  • I’ve made this a spinach and paneer curry because that’s what we think about when we think of saag paneer. Saag really refers to mustard greens, but it kind of encapsulates any kind of greens you might have available. Use what you have, what you like or what you want!
  • Be generous. The greens will cook down substantially as you cook. So I find it best to add it in batches, allowing the first to cook down before adding the second, then the second to cook down before adding the third.
  • Throw in a few dried chillies if you like. I did, but I’ve excluded them because I don’t think they’re a necessary component as such. More just a tasty addition!
  • Keep the seasoning fairly light. Subtlety is important here. I like to add a little sugar to sweeten. I think the dish lends itself to that. But don’t go crazy and certainly don’t throw too much of anything in there.
Easy Spinach Paneer Curry | Authentic Indian Saag Paneer Recipe

Similar Recipes & Useful Sides

Chicken Saag Recipe – Another saag. Not a spinach and paneer curry this time, but a chicken and paneer one. Equally tasty. Extra meaty.

Passanda Sauce Recipe – An Authentic Leftover Chicken Curry – The sexiest, creamiest, butteriest, chickeniest curry I’ve ever made and an absolute personal favourite.

Goan Lamb Curry – Another of Goa’s beautiful curries. This time a delicious vindaloo style lamb dish!

The Best Indian Flatbread Recipe – The best Indian flatbreads you’ve ever seen. Seriously.



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Spinach and Paneer Curry.

Easy Spinach Paneer Curry | Authentic Indian Saag Paneer Recipe

Ed Chef
This easy spinach and paneer curry recipe is all about the authentic Indian classic, the Saag Paneer. It's green, cheesy and awesome!
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dinner, main, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

Paneer

  • 4 litres Skimmed Milk or whole, if you’re looking for a creamier, but less healthy alternative
  • Lemon Juice

Paste & Spices

  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 3/4 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek Powder
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 inches Ginger

Other

  • 200 g Spinach
  • 1 lrg Onion
  • 350 ml Vegetable Stock
  • 1 tbsp Caster Sugar
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Cream optional

Instructions
 

Prep

  • Bring 4 litres of milk to the boil. As soon as it starts to boil, add enough lemon juice that when you stir it, the solids break away and harden.
  • Strain the liquid and wrap the solids in a cloth, further straining as much water as you can out of them. I advise doing that under a running cold tap to avoid burning your hands. Still be careful.
  • When you've squeezed as much as you can out, press the paneer beneath something heavy to flatten it. Cool it in the fridge, then chop it into bitesize pieces.
  • In a hot, oiled pan, fry the paneer pieces until browned all over and season with a little salt.
  • Dice the onions and set them aside with the mustard seeds and a cinnamon stick.
  • Peel the ginger and garlic and grind them into a fine paste.
  • Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan on high heat and grind them into a fine powder. Then mix them into a spice mix with the asafoetida and the fenugreek powder.

Cook

  • Caramelise the onions with the mustard seeds and the cinnamon stick in an oiled pan with some salt on a medium heat.
  • After 10 minutes, add the spice mix and allow it to cook through for two minutes, then add the ginger and garlic paste.
  • After another couple of minutes, add the greens and just enough stock that we can blend it all up nicely. Add some more stock, enough to create enough sauce for two, stir it all together and add the paneer.
  • Stew everything on a low heat for 15 – 20 minutes, then add the caster sugar, adjust the seasoning and serve with an optional splash of cream.
Keyword Authentic Saag Recipe, chicken saag, Easy Saag Paneer, Indian Saag, Paneer, Saag Paneer, Spinach and Paneer Curry, Spinach Paneer

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