Saag Paneer

  • Level: Easy
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
  • Total: 1 hr 10 min
  • Active: 45 min


1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Kosher salt

4 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

12 ounces paneer (Indian cheese), cut into 1-inch cubes

1 16-ounce package frozen chopped spinach

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large green serrano chile pepper (seeds removed if you don?t like it spicy!), finely chopped

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred until smooth


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Drop in the cubes of paneer and gently toss. Let the cubes marinate while you get the rest of your ingredients together and prepped.
  2. Thaw the spinach in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish, 5 minutes, then transfer to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. Puree in a food processor until smooth. (Alternatively, you can chop it up very finely with your knife.) Set aside.
  3. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the paneer as the pan warms. In a couple of minutes, flip the paneer; each piece should be browned on one side. Fry another minute or so and then remove the paneer from the pan to a plate.
  4. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the pan. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, chile and a pinch of salt. Now here?s the important part: Sauté the mixture until it?s evenly toffee-colored, which should take about 15 minutes. Don?t skip this step?this is the foundation of the dish! If you feel like the mixture is drying out and burning, add a couple of tablespoons of water.
  5. Add the coriander, cumin and garam masala. If you haven?t already, sprinkle in a little water to keep the spices from burning. Cook, stirring often, until the raw scent of the spices cooks out and it all smells a bit more melodious, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the spinach and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach. Stir in a little salt and 1/2 cup water. Cook 5 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat. Stir in the yogurt a little at a time to keep it from curdling. Once the yogurt is well mixed into the spinach, add the paneer. Turn the heat back on, cover and cook until everything is warmed through, about 2 minutes.

Let's Get Cooking!

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I made this with fresh spinach chopped up in the food processor. I had no chilies and also have a nightshade allergy so wouldn't use them anyway. The only heat in the dish as I prepared it was the 1/2 t. of cayenne in the paneer marinade which I poured all into the frying pan. I did use the yogurt called for but added additional heavy cream to get the consistency I was looking for. The dish had plenty of "kick" in it for me and my guests. I thought the recipe was easy and very flavorful. I cook for a husband that grew up in India and he thought it was great.

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