You are going to love this healthy saag paneer which is an easy, Indian recipe thats full of flavor and uses a combination of mustard greens or arugula and spinach. It's gluten free, ready in 30 minutes and is perfect with naan or parathas.
It's time for over the top deliciousness because I'm sharing one of my favorite recipes on the blog today - saag paneer. Now let's be clear that saag paneer isn't authentic Indian food. In fact I don't think I've ever seen anybody in India really make saag paneer. We definitely have palak paneer which is also my favorite. They jostle for No. 1 paneer recipe spots. And I can't pick a winner. So help me a little here.
But saag paneer is most definitely something that happened outside India and then became super popular everywhere else except this country. Not complaining because I ended up making it a long time back when I lived alone (sans husband) from a recipe I found online. And loved loved loved it!
I've grown up eating saag which is usually made with a combination of mustard greens, radish, fenugreek etc and this saag paneer hits all the right notes. And it has paneer so thats a double win for me!
Since mustard greens are hard to find during summer, I went ahead and used arugula in the recipe which has the same sharp, mustard taste. But if you are stickler for rules, look for mustard greens which are more authentic.
Saag Paneer vs. Palak Paneer
Good question, you guys. Just what I asked myself. Saag paneer uses a combination of spinach and mustard greens (or any other green leaves) and cubed paneer (cottage cheese), whereas palak paneer just uses spinach.
Like I said before, Saag in India is usually made during the winter months when there's plenty of mustard greens, collard greens, radish greens etc. available. It's a combination of these which is cooked with lots of garlic, spices and eaten with makki ki roti or rotis (flatbread) made with makki ka aata (corn flour). Its a hot gravy thats topped with butter to satisfy the craving for warm food during cold summer months.
I like my saag paneer chunky versus creamy because that texture of chunky greens and garlic with creamy paneer is the bomb!
Saag Paneer Recipe Substitutions
If you are vegan, you can easily substitute paneer for tofu, and the cream for coconut cream. This is a naturally gluten free recipe like most Indian curries. And if you are the kinds who doesn't love paneer, add chicken or lamb to make chicken saag or lamb saag which taste delicious too (recipe for chicken saag coming up soon). The cooking times will vary of course so make sure to cook the curry long enough after adding chicken to it.
See how easy life can be when you are making saag paneer or your version of it?
Easy Indian Saag Paneer
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 2 teaspoons Oil divided
- 8 Garlic Cloves minced
- 2 Green Chillies finely chopped (reduce if you like your food less spicy)
- ½ cup Onions finely chopped
- ½ cup Tomatoes finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
- 1 tablespoon Coriander Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 2 cups Spinach finely chopped
- 2 cups Arugula or Mustard Greens finely chopped (Mustard Greens are more authentically used)
- 1 tablespoon Dried Fenugreek leaves or Kasuri Methi optional
- 2 tablespoons Cream
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups Paneer cut into 1 inch cubes
- Heat butter and a teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add minced garlic and saute till the garlic is a light golden brown.
- Add green chillies and onions to the pan and cook till the onions are translucent. To this, add tomatoes, red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Mix well. Cover and cook till the tomatoes break down and turn pasty. This should take about 7-10 minutes.
- While the tomatoes are cooking, add a teaspoon of oil to a non stick pan and add the paneer cubes, making sure not to crown the pan. Flip when the bottom is brown. Once both sides are golden brown, take the paneer out on a plate. This step is optional and you can skip it and use the paneer as is.
- Add spinach and arugula leaves (or mustard greens if using) and mix well. Cook for 10 minutes till the leaves are cooked through. Mix in kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and cream. Add paneer, mix gently and serve immediately.
- You can reduce the amount of green chillies in the recipe if you don't like the heat
- Paneer can be easily substituted with tofu, butter with oil and cream can be substituted with coconut to turn this into a vegan saag paneer recipe
- Mustard greens would be the best choice for this recipe, but arugula works well as well when mustard greens are not available
- Serve saag paneer with naan, parathas or basmati rice
More Indian recipes for you to try: