Saag Paneer is a celebration of winter greens with mustard leaves (rai saag/sarson), spinach (palak) and radish greens coming together to form an earthy, bright, green gravy. In go some creamy paneer pieces and we’ve got the perfect meal for those sunny winter afternoons.
I know saag often gets a bad rep for being the bitter green, given its distinctive taste. But when cooked with some mixed greens and combined with some fresh cream, the taste is just out of this world. With saag, it’s all about how you prepare it, and this recipe is a sure winner.
Quick Walk Through: Saag Paneer
I’m a big fan of seasonal recipes because there is just something that the freshness of the ingredients adds to the dish! I started seeing those fresh bundles of saag leaves at the market and couldn’t resist cooking up some warming and authentic Saag Paneer.
The great thing about this recipe is that it can be modified based on the ingredients you have and it’s perfect for using up any greens that have been sitting in your fridge for too long.
Reasons Why You're Going to Love This Recipe
- This recipe uses seasonal ingredients - maximizing the nutritional value of the dish
- It is rich in fibre, iron, and several vitamins
- The dish can be modified to suit vegan diets by using tofu instead of paneer
- Any combination of greens can be used for the gravy
Ingredients You Need
Here's everything you need for this recipe:
- Saag (Mustard Greens): Saag is the produce of the winter season! These leaves have a rich, dark green colour and a pungent mustard flavour that works so well in this gravy. If you don’t have these, you can use kale, arugula, collard greens or spinach.
- Radish Greens and Radish: I like to add a little radish for a sharp, pungent flavour that works really well with the mustard greens.
- Spinach: I find that spinach really balances the sharpness of the mustard and radish greens, giving the gravy a mellow taste that just makes you want to go in for another bite.
- Green Garlic: I’ve used green garlic in the blended gravy and chopped into the final dish as well, because I just love the delicate, garlicky flavour that it adds! You can really taste this addition. This is completely optional though because it's not always available
- Paneer: Sub with potatoes or tofu to make this vegan saag paneer. Saag is usually served as a thick gravy of its own, but I like to add paneer to add an element of creaminess and something to soak up all the flavours from this dish. I find that adding paneer also makes the dish more palatable if you haven’t fully acquired the taste of mustard greens yet.
- Cream: Just a tablespoon, a little goes a long way! This works great to balance the flavours.
Saag Paneer Recipe - Step by Step
1. Add cleaned and washed mustard leaves, spinach leaves, radish leaves, radish and water to a pressure cooker
2. Pressure cook for 1 whistle or 10 minutes till the radish is tender
3. Let the mixture cool completely and blend
4. Blend the mixture to a coarse paste because saag paneer tastes better when the mixture is chunky
5. Heat mustard oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Once they start spluttering, add hing (asafoetida), ginger, garlic, green chillies, the chopped white part of the green garlic and onions. Saute the mixture till the onions turn a light golden brown
6. Add tomatoes, coriander powder, chilli powder and salt. Saute and cook the tomato mixture for a few minutes till you start seeing oil separating from the sides
7. Add the blended green mixture and mix well. Cook this mixture for 8-10 minutes till you see spots of oil appear on top. You'll notice the greens changing colour and becoming slightly muddier and that's normal. Add chopped green garlic and mix well
8. Add the paneer cubes and gently mix them in. Simmer for 3-4 minutes and Saag Paneer is ready!
Palak paneer is made with spinach based gravy and added paneer cubes whereas saag paneer can include various greens in its gravy such as mustard greens, radish greens, fenugreek, spinach, etc and added paneer cubes.
Saag paneer has an earthy taste to it with the sharpness of the greens and added creaminess of the paneer. The gravy is meant to be a little chunky and rustic.
No, saag is mustard greens - it has a distinct, sharp flavour that is different from spinach.
The origin of this dish is from the province of Punjab in northern India.
You can use tofu instead of paneer and omit the fresh cream or use coconut cream instead.
You can use kale, collard greens, or spinach, or a combination of the three.
This dish can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
On one of these winter days when the afternoon sun starts to creep its way into the room, you know there’s nothing better to do than whip up this Saag Paneer. It’s nutritious, comforting, and easy to make all at once! I know I’ll be making it several more times this season to make good use of all the fresh produce right now!
Another great way to cook up the fresh mustard green produce is by making my Saag Chicken - a very filling and satisfying curry.
You can also make my Restaurant-Style Palak Paneer if you’re a fan of greens!
Watch the Recipe Video
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Authentic Saag Paneer
- 1 Bunch Mustard Leaves rai saag or mustard greens, approx 50 Grams
- 1 Bunch Spinach palak, approx 120 Grams
- 1 Bunch Daikon Radish with Leaves mooli, approx 75 Grams
- 1 bunch Green Garlic scapes optional, white and green part chopped separately
- 3 Tablespoons Mustard Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Jeera
- ¼ Teaspoon Hing Asafoetida
- 2 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic
- 1 Tablespoon Chopped Ginger
- ½ Cup Chopped Onion
- 1 Tablespoon Green Chilli Paste
- ½ Cup Chopped Tomato
- 1 Tablespoon Coriander Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
- 1 ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 200 Grams Paneer cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 Tablespoon White Butter
- Add mustard leaves, spinach leaves and radish to the pressure cooker along with ½ Cup water. Pressure cook for 1 whistle and remove from flame. Allow to cool and blend to a coarse paste.
- Heat oil in a kadai or saucepan. Once hot, add cumin seeds and allow it to splutter. Add hing, ginger, garlic, onions and green chilli paste. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until onions soften.
- Add tomatoes, coriander powder, chilli powder and salt. Cook till tomatoes are soft, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the blended saag mixture and ¼ Cup water. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add in the paneer cubes and a knob of white butter. Mix, allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes and serve hot.
- You can reduce the green chilli paste 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 milk to turn this into a vegan saag paneer recipe
- Mustard greens would be the best choice for this recipe but can be substituted with kale, collard greens or arugula
- This dish can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
- Serve saag paneer with naan, parathas or basmati rice
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This article has been researched and written by Navya Khetarpal