Saag Paneer


Saag paneer is a North Indian classic combining paneer, an Indian cottage cheese, with fresh spinach. The tender cubes of cheese are complimented perfectly by wholesome and nutrient-dense greens. With 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fibre, no fat or cholesterol and only 7 calories per 30g, spinach provides a great base for any meal. Spinach is also a good source of vitamin K, which helps the body in blood clotting and avoiding excessive bleeding. Just 30g of spinach provides in excess of our daily requirement of vitamin K. Because many of spinach’s nutrients, including vitamin C, folate, B vitamins and thiamin, are water soluble, spinach loses a large portion of its nutrients when it is boiled or steamed. For maximum vitamin retention, it is best to cook spinach very quickly. This recipe blanches the leaves, which is a good way to preserve nutritional integrity.

As with most classic dishes, everyone has a favourite way to prepare it. There are many variations of the dish in terms of spicing and cooking methods, and this is my interpretation. I keep it very simple to allow the paneer and spinach to really shine through. Some recipes keep the spinach leaves whole or roughly chopped. I personally prefer blending the spinach down so that it envelopes the cubes of paneer in a delicate gravy.

Serve this curry with warm naan for a sumptuous meal.

Serves 4

500g fresh spinach, washed

3 tbsp ghee, or sunflower oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 small onion, chopped

thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 green chillies, chopped

salt, to taste

250g paneer (available from some supermarkets and Asian grocers), cut into cubes

½-1 tsp garam masala

A dash of double cream

  1. Blanch the spinach leaves in hot water for 10-15 seconds, drain well and place in ice water until all the spinach has cooled. Drain thoroughly.
  2. Using a food processor or blender, reduce the spinach leaves down to a puree. Set aside.
  3. In a non-stick pan over a medium heat, add 1 tbsp ghee (or oil). Line a plate with kitchen paper and place near your stove.  Fry the paneer in the ghee until they turn lightly golden on all sides. This won’t take very long. Once golden, transfer to the lined plate and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  4. Add the rest of the ghee or oil to the pan. Once hot, add the cumin and fry for about 45 seconds until fragrant and sizzling.
  5. Turn down the heat slightly, add the chopped onion and fry for about 5 minutes until soft.
  6. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another minute. Add salt to taste.
  7. Add the pureed spinach to the pan. At this point, you want the mixture to be loose and stir-able, but not overly watery. Add a splash of water to allow it to come to a gentle simmer. I needed 3-4 tbsp. Let the spinach simmer for 3 minutes before adding the paneer cubes, garam masala and the dash of cream.


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