Saag Paneer – East Indian

Saag Paneer is an East Indian spinach dish that involves making Indian cheese (paneer), which is a like making mascarpone only you use whole milk instead of heavy cream. You have the option of making or buying the and garam masala that you need.

This recipe takes at least a day to make so plan ahead.


  • 4.5 TBL vegetable oil
  • 12 oz. Paneer cheese – diced in small cubes
  • 16 oz. spinach frozen chopped
  • 1 onion – diced fine
  • 4 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 TBL fresh ginger – peeled and pressed
  • 1 pepper – serrano for hot, poblano for mild
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp coriander – ground
  • 1 tsp cumin – ground
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala – make or buy
  • 4 oz. plain yogurt – stirred until smooth
  • Kosher salt


  1. Mise en Place – measure and prepare all your ingredients before you begin. This includes thawing out the spinach in advance of starting.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the turmeric and cayenne with 1 tsp salt and 3 TBL oil.
  3. Gently, drop in cubes of paneer and gently toss, taking care not to break the cubes if you’re using the homemade kind. Let the cubes marinate while you get the rest of your ingredients going.
  4. In a food processor, puree the thawed spinach until smooth.
  5. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the paneer as the pan warms. In a couple of minutes give the pan a toss; each piece of paneer should be browned on one side. Fry another minute or so, and then remove the paneer from the pan.
  6. Add 1.5 TBL oil to the pan. Add the onions and sauté until translucent (~5 mins). Add the ginger, garlic and chile and sauté until the mixture is evenly toffee-coloured, which should take several minutes. If it feels like the mixture is drying out and burning, lower the heat and add a couple of TBL of water.
  7. Add the garam masala, coriander and cumin. If you haven’t already, sprinkle a little water to keep the spices from burning. Cook, stirring often, until the raw scent of the spices cook out, and it all smells a bit more melodious, ~ 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Add the spinach and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach. Add a little salt and 1/2 cup of water, stir, and cook about 5 minutes with the lid off.
  9. Turn the heat off. Add the yogurt, a little at a time to keep it from curdling. Once the yogurt is well mixed into the spinach, add the paneer. Turn the heat back on, cover and cook until everything is warmed through, ~ 5 minutes.
  10. Serve.