Friday, November 18, 2011

Saag Paneer

I love saag paneer.  I don't know when I started eating it, but it's one of my favorite Indian dishes.  That spicy and creamy spinach, plus the real kicker--cubes of cheese.  CUBES OF CHEESE.

So imagine how pleased I was when I was perusing through my sister's recipe files (she is the true cook in the family--really amazing) and I saw a recipe for version of saag paneer that was very doable.  The hardest thing to find was the paneer, but luckily they sold packages of it at the Whole Foods nearby for the bargain price of 10 dollars. Yes, 10 dollars.  The alternative was making my own, which, as my sister told me with a sniff (which might have included a scoff), is not that hard to make on your own.  Okay, then, you make it.  I spent the $10.

Next time I make this, I will take the extra step of taking an immersion blender to the spinach after it's cooked to get more of that creaminess that you do when you order it at a restaurant.  This was a bit more of a sauteed/quick braised spinach version.

1 large onion
3 cloves garlic (I used 6 the first time and it was a bit too much)
1 oz fresh ginger
1 lb frozen chopped spinach 

2 to 3 tsp vegetable oil (or other neutral oil)
1 cup plain yogurt
4 oz buttermilk (1/2 cup)
pinch of red chili powder or cayenne pepper 

2 tsp garam masala
1 cup half and half
6 oz paneer, cut into 1/2" cubes 

1 TBS butter
salt to taste

Serves 4 to 6

Grind the onion, garlic, and ginger into a fine paste.

In a large saucepan or pot, heat 2 to 3 tsp vegetable oil over medium high heat. Cook the onion/paste/ginger paste for about 3 minutes.  Add in the garam masala and chili powder. I think I also threw in a pinch of turmeric and extra cumin, but it's not necessary. Stir until spices are fragrant and cooked, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add in buttermilk, yogurt and spinach (I just threw mine in frozen because the branch I bought was a bag of loose frozen chopped spinach, but if it came in a block I would have defrosted it first).

Simmer at medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes. Next time, at this point, I will mash the ingredients with a potato masher or blend using an immersion or traditional blender.

Add the half and half. Simmer until the mixture has a creamy consistency, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the cheese and butter, simmer 5 minutes.

Season to taste with salt.
Not as creamy as restaurant versions, but it hit the spot.

Serve with jasmine rice. Ta-da!


  1. I've never had Saag Paneer, sounds easy enough to make though!

  2. Chunks of cheese?? OMG, why am I not eating this now?? I also love spinach, but you know it was the cheese that called my name.

  3. Oh man, I thought the paneer was still in the package and all those cubes next to the packaging were cubes of butter! Had to do a quick scroll up to see if there were 3 sticks of butter in this recipe, ha. I'm an idiot.

  4. We tried saag paneer recently, but the recipe we tried was so BLEH--it tasted like jalapenos and paneer (but not hot, so it was even weirder). But paneer really is VERY easy to make. You should try it sometime! It only takes a few minutes but you can totally impress your friends.

  5. Wooo! This is my absolute favorite indian dish...due mostly to the cheese cubes! Bookmarking! And I didn't know they sold paneer at whole foods..

  6. I like your chunky version -- it looks delicious!

    I think trader joe's sells paneer, too.

  7. yummy! i love saag paneer. it's soo decadent :D

  8. Yummm, I love saag paneer! My laziness + $10 paneer probably means I'll just order it though :)

  9. I need to try this recipe. I love Saag paneer and always wanted to make it myself.