Palak paneer is a gloriously spiced vegetarian Indian dish featuring fresh Indian cheese and lots of spinach that cooks in under 30 minutes.
The spinach sauce is generously spiced but far less complex than many Indian curries and it tastes fantastic.
Saag Paneer an Indian Spinach Curry
Palak paneer really is the archetypal Indian spinach curry as far as I am concerned.
Creamy mild fresh Indian “cottage” cheese in a generously spiced rich and thick creamy spinach gravy. Unlike some palak paneer recipes, mine contains no cream in the sauce.
It is a delicious, and for many people an unusual curry.
If paneer is not your thing then I have a palak chicken curry too.
My rich and thick spinach gravy is much more simple than many of my curry recipes.
Green chillies, a single tomato onion and garlic are joined by curry leaves, fenugreek, garam masala, coriander and turmeric… oh yes and spinach of course. Lots and lots of spinach!
The paneer is the perfect mild and creamy vehicle to contrast this iron rich and bold sauce.
And don’t worry if you can’t find paneer in your local store because it is easy to make at home.
Homemade paneer needs two ingredients, milk or cream and vinegar, I make mine in an Instant Pot.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between saag and palak?
Palak explicitly refers to spinach whereas saag means greens, which could mean spinach but not necessarily.
As an example, I make my saag aloo recipe with chard. So you could easily refer to this dish as a saag paneer curry.
I find some spinach dishes bitter, what am I doing wrong?
Bitterness can be an issue when cooking with spinach. It is a sensation that is caused by oxalic acid and it becomes more pronounced the longer the spinach is cooked.
I have seen people advise adding sugar which is a combination I am not keen on. The first thing to do is keep the cooking of the spinach to an absolute minimum.
The next step is to get the amount of salt right, ensure that you taste, and add more salt if needed after the gravy has been pureed.
Can I make this sauce in advance?
For me no, it is a dish that is best served immediately.
Leaving the sauce to cool and reheat will increase the cooking time. As a result, it will both dull the beautiful colour of a classic palak paneer and also increase the bitter/metallic flavour in the dish.
Despite being a palak paneer without cream recipe I do like to add a swirl of cream for presentation. I also like to add thinly sliced red onion, the sweet astringent flavour is a great match.
On occasion, I also like to add kachumber salad on the side!
If you want to make the dish more substantial, palak paneer is awesome with rice whether plainly boiled or pilau rice.
I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- 28cm or 11″ saucepan with a lid.
- Chopping board.
- Kicthen knife.
- Stirring and serving spoons.
- Weighing scales and or measure jug, cups and spoons.
A palak paneer is a classic mild vegetarian curry from Northern India that features spinach and often homemade, paneer cheese.
- 250g (9oz) Paneer
- 350g (9-10 cups) Baby Spinach
- 75g (½ Cup) Onion
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 35g (Thumb Sized Piece) Ginger
- 1 Medium Tomato
- 6 Curry Leaves
- 2 Green Chilli Peppers
- 1 Tbsp Dried Fenugreek
- 1 Tsp Turmeric
- 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
- ½ Tsp Garam Masala
- ½ Tsp Salt (Add more if you want)
- 250ml (1 Cup) Water
- 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
- Lemon Juice to taste
- Peel the onion, garlic and ginger and roughly chop them.
- Remove the stem from the green chilli and give it a rough chop.
- Heat the oil in a large (28cm or 11") saucepan over a medium heat.
- Add the onion, garlic and ginger along with the chillies and curry leaves and fry for 5-7 minutes or until the onions soften and start to colour stirring occasionally.
- Cut the tomato into a 1cm (½") dice.
- Chop the paneer into a 2-2.5cm (¾-1") dice.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomato, garam masala, ground coriander, turmeric and fenugreek and stir for 1 minute.
- Pour in the water and salt, then cook for 5 minutes.
- Pack in the spinach add a lid and cook until the spinach has completely wilted (2-3 minutes).
- Transfer the spinach to a blender and blend to form a smooth gravy adding more water if required.
- Return the spinach gravy to the pan and have a taste adding more salt if required.
- Drop in the diced paneer and reheat gently for 3-4 minutes.
- Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice to your taste.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 595Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 1681mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 8gSugar: 10gProtein: 32g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.