Saag Paneer Recipe

Updated: May 7, 2024, By Swasthi

Saag Paneer is a healthy, protein & flavor-packed dish of Indian cheese, served in buttery, creamy & spicy leafy greens. It is best served for a weekend lunch with roti, Tandoori Roti, Butter Naan or plain fluffy Basmati Rice. Make it in a regular pan on the stovetop or in the Instant pot (for a one-pot dish).

Saag Paneer



About Saag Paneer

The term “Saag” refers to leafy greens. So Saag Paneer simply translates to Paneer cooked with any or mixed leafy greens. It is not a dish you will find in India, & is believed to have originated in the Indian restaurants abroad (outside India). Inspired with the rich and warming flavors of Punjabi sarson ka saag, chefs may have come up with this dish. Though the restaurant version is not cooked the same way as the traditional dish, you will still see mustard greens being used.

My Recipe

This recipe is simple, easy to make, healthy and tastes delicious. It is not very creamy like my Palak Paneer due to the higher amount of leafy greens used, making this truly a SAAG. While Palak Paneer is made with spinach alone, this is made with mixed greens. So you are free to use a combination of leafy greens like spinach, mustard greens, kale, radish greens, bathua, collards, Swiss chard and fenugreek. But it is important to use the greens you love because your dish will have those flavors and taste.

I make mine with baby spinach, fenugreek and choy sum. Choy sum is a leafy green that belongs to the mustard family and is slightly sweet and pleasant-tasting. There are many different kinds of mustard greens grown across the world and what is used for sarson ka saag in India may not be available elsewhere.

So you can easily substitute the mustard greens with your favorite locally available fresh greens that don’t taste bitter. It is important to use fresh and young greens rather than mature leaves which may impart bitter and metallic tones to the saag.

This recipe has been tested extensively with many different kinds of leafy greens, to avoid bitter, metallic & bland results. While acidic ingredients like tomatoes and yogurt are used to cut down the bitter flavors, carrot/ baby turnip is used to impart sweeter tones. A small amount of cream(dairy or nut cream) is used to make the dish slightly creamy.

Traditionally made sarson ka saag does not use ingredients like garam masala because a small amount of maize/yellow corn flour is used. It not only makes the saag thick but also imparts a flavor. This recipe uses garam masala to flavor the dish since we don’t use flour.

More similar recipes
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Tofu Curry
Chickpea Curry
Aloo Chana Kurma

Photo Guide

How to Make Saag Paneer (Stepwise Photos)

Below I show you how to make it in a pan with pictures but have the instructions for Instant pot as well. The only difference would be the color of your Saag, since that’s cooked under pressure. This recipe makes 3 servings but the pictures show 2x recipe.

Preparation

1. To save time you may use ready to use (pre-washed) greens. Else rinse them well thrice in plenty of water and drain to a colander. You will need

  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves / palak (without stalks, 120 grams/4.5 ounce) 
  • 4 cups mustard greens / choy sum/ baby kale or a combination (without stalks, 120 grams /4.5 ounces) 

If using kale, destem and rinse them well. Taste test the raw leaves and if they taste bitter, chop and add to 3 cups of boiling hot water mixed with 2 tablespoon lemon juice. Blanch them for 3 mins. Remove & add to cold water, drain to a strainer.

spinach and choy sum / mustard greens

2. You will also need

  • ¾ cup onions (85 grams,1 medium onion sliced)
  • 1 to 2 green chilies (slit, adjust to heat tolerance)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves (peeled & sliced thick if required)
  • ½ inch ginger (peeled and sliced thick)
  • ½ cup ripe tomatoes (60 grams) sliced (I peel first)
  • ⅓ cup carrot (or baby turnip, (50 grams) sliced, cuts down the bitter taste)
  • ¼ cup thick curd/ yogurt (sub with ¼ cup tomatoes)
ingredients to make saag

3. You will need the following spices & other ingredients:

  • ½ teaspoon salt (more if you need)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar (optional, use if you need)
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 pinch of turmeric (more if you want)
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala (use more if you want)
  • 1 tablespoon kasuri methi (taste test your saag before adding)
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoons ghee & 1 tablespoon butter for tadka
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (or cashew cream from 12 nuts, powder in a small grinder, blend with ¼ cup water or milk to a smooth cream)
spices to make saag

Pan Fry Paneer

4. Add ½ tablespoon ghee to a non-stick pan, spread and heat it. Place 250 grams (9 ounces) cold paneer cubes on the pan and fry on a medium high heat, until the base turns golden. Turn the pieces to the other side with a wooden tong and repeat frying until golden. Leave them in the pan aside.

If you are using Instant pot, you may leave out this and add the paneer directly later, to make it a one-pot dish.

fried paneer for saag

Make the Saag

5. Pour rest of the ghee to a pan and add sliced onions, slit green chilies, sliced ginger and garlic. Saute until the raw flavor of the onions is gone, for about 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce the flame and stir in turmeric, coriander and cumin.

Instant pot: Perform the above step on a saute mode. You will need only 3 to 4 mins to cook the onions.

sauteed onions

6. Add tomatoes and curd/yogurt. Mix well and cover. Cook on a medium heat until the tomatoes break down to a mush.

Instant pot: This takes you about 3 to 4 mins.

tomatoes and yogurt

7. The onions should completely become completely soft.

8. Add carrots and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. This step helps to bring out the sweet flavors. Add the spinach.

Instant pot: Add carrots, followed by all the greens and saute until wilted. Pour ¼ cup water. Cover and pressure cook for 10 minutes. Let the pressure drop naturally for at least 10 mins, release the rest manually.

saute saag in a pan

9. Also add all the other greens.

mustard greens in a pan

10. Let them steam/cook or saute until wilted & cooked. It should take you about 5 to 6 minutes. I did not add water at all. There were water droplets from the rinsed greens which was enough to cook. But if your pan dries out, you may add some water.

11. Set aside a green chili if you want. Pour ¼ cup water & blend to a slightly coarse puree using an immersion blender or a blender. If using a blender, cool down first. If the mixture is too thick, use a splash of water. Taste test, add the reserved chili & blend if you want extra heat. Mix together saag puree and salt. Bring it to a gentle simmer and cook on a medium heat for 6 to 7 mins, or until it no more smells raw. If it is too thick to your liking, add some hot water during this process.

Instant pot: Follow the same blending step and cook on saute mode for 2 to 3 mins. Follow the rest of the steps as mentioned below. Add the paneer raw and I highly suggest tadka for extra flavor.

12. Add garam masala and sugar (if you need). I prefer adding kasuri methi because my saag tastes sweet even without adding sugar. Taste test first and then add sugar or kasuri methi to suit your taste.

13. Mix together very well first and then stir in the cream.

14. Add fried paneer (retain some to garnish). Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until aromatic. At this stage taste again and add whatever you want like salt, garam masala or more cream. If you are making this dish ahead and want to reheat later, you may not cook after adding paneer. Simply do that at the time of reheating.

Temper/ Tadka

15. Temper only when you are ready to serve. You will need the following to temper:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or ghee
  • 1 to 2 large garlic cloves sliced
  • 1 to 2 dried red chili
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida / hing (use gluten-free if preferred)
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or hot chili flakes (adjust to taste)

Begin to heat butter on a very low heat. Before the butter melts, add sliced garlic and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes to infuse the flavors. Do not brown the garlic.

16. Add dried red chili & fry until crisp. Turn off the stove and stir in hing & red chili powder or flakes.

17. Pour this over Saag Paneer & garnish with fried paneer.

Serve with Tandoori Roti or Basmati Rice. Do not forget to squeeze lemon juice while serving.

Saag Paneer Recipe

Pro Tips

  • It is important to use young/ baby greens in this recipe. Since we use a lot of them, using mature leaves or the stalks can impart bitter and metallic flavors.
  • Baby spinach has low-oxalates compared to the mature leaves so this recipe does not call for blanching. But if you are using regular spinach, you may blanch them to lower the oxalates. Mustard leaves are low-oxalate greens. So you don’t need to blanch them.
  • Greens can taste bitter if they are not grown in good conditions – too little water or sometimes soil profile. Greens grown during the cooler season or winters are best to make saag as they naturally taste less bitter. However to reduce the chances of your dish tasting bitter, please use young or baby greens.
  • This recipe calls for longer cooking times compared to my palak paneer and that’s because this recipe uses higher amount of greens for the same servings. You need to cook the saag really well until you no more feel the raw taste of greens.
  • Turnip/ Carrot: Traditionally, a small/young turnip is added to sarson ka saag to impart a unique earthy and sweeter flavor. But since that don’t give me the desired results I use carrot. You may leave out that if you know your greens won’t taste bitter. But you won’t taste the carrots in your dish.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

Saag Paneer Recipe

Saag Paneer Recipe

5 from 19 votes
Make delicious and healthy Saag Paneer at home with this easy and tasty recipe. Serve it over rice or with Naan or Tandoori Roti.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Servings3
AuthorSwasthi
Diet : Gluten Free, Vegetarian

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 250 grams (9 ounces) paneer (cut to preferred sizes)
  • 4 cups (120 grams/4.5 ounce) baby spinach – palak (without stems)
  • 4 cups (120 grams /4.5 ounces) mustard greens / choy sum/ baby kale (without stems, read notes to prepare)
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoon ghee or oil (divided)
  • ¾ cup (85 grams) onions (sliced)
  • 1 to 2 green chilies (slit, adjust to heat tolerance)
  • ½ inch ginger (peel and slice thick)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves (peeled)
  • ½ cup (60 grams) tomatoes sliced
  • ⅓ cup (50 grams) carrot (or baby turnip, sliced)
  • teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ¼ cup yogurt (or sub with tomatoes)
  • ¼ cup water (more if needed)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (more if you need)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar (optional, use if you need)
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste, more if you want)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (or cashew cream from 12 nuts)
  • 1 lemon to serve

To temper

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or ghee
  • teaspoon asafoetida / hing (use gluten-free if preferred)
  • 1 to 2 large garlic clove sliced
  • 1 to 2 dried red chili
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or chili flakes (adjust to taste)


Instructions

  • Rinse the spinach and mustard greens at least thrice in plenty of water. Drain them to a colander. If using kale prepare reading the notes below.

How to make Saag Paneer

  • Add ½ tablespoon ghee to a non-stick pan, spread and heat it. Place the cold paneer on the pan and fry on a medium high heat, until the bottom turns golden. Turn the pieces to the other side and repeat frying until golden. Keep this aside
  • Heat the rest of the ghee in a pan and add onions, green chilies, ginger and garlic. Saute until the raw flavor from onions disappear, for about 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Stir in coriander, turmeric and cumin. Add tomatoes and yogurt. Mix well. Cover and cook until the tomatoes break down to a mush. The onions should completely become soft.
  • Add carrot and saute for 2 mins, to bring out the sweet flavors.
  • Add spinach and mustard greens. Let them steam/cook or saute until wilted & cooked. It should take you about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Pour water & reserve a green chili aside. Blend to a slightly coarse puree using an immersion blender or a blender. If using a blender, cool down first. If the mixture is too thick, use a splash of water. Taste test and if you want add the reserved chili & blend.
  • Mix together saag puree and salt in the pan. Bring it to a gentle simmer and cook on a medium heat for 6 to 7 mins, or until it no more smells raw. If it is too thick to your liking, add some hot water during this process.
  • Add garam masala, fried paneer (retain some to garnish) and sugar (if you need). Mix together very well first and then stir in the cream. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until aromatic.
  • To Temper – Add butter to a pan. Turn on the stove & regulate to low heat. Before the butter melts, add garlic and let cook for 2 minutes on a very low heat to infuse the flavors. Do not brown the garlic, add dried red chili & fry until crisp.
  • Turn off the heat. Add hing and red chili powder or flakes. Pour this over Saag Paneer & garnish with fried paneer. Serve with Tandoori Roti or Basmati Rice. Squeeze lemon juice while serving.


Notes

  • Any greens can taste bitter if they are not grown in good conditions – too little water or sometimes soil profile. Greens grown in the cooler days or winters are best to make saag as they naturally taste less bitter. However to reduce the chances of your dish tasting bitter, please use young or baby greens. 
  • To use kale, destem and rinse them well. You may taste test the raw leaves and if they taste bitter, chop and add to 3 cups of boiling hot water mixed with 2 tablespoon lemon juice. Rest them for 3 mins. Remove & add to cold water, drain and use in the recipe.
  • If using turnip, taste test first and avoid using if it is bitter. Sweet tasting turnips are best here.
  • Additives in garam masala can sometimes split the heavy cream. So incorporate the garam masala first before adding the cream.
  • You may need more water as it depends on the kind of greens.
  • I prefer to finish my dish with 1 tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek) since my greens don’t taste bitter at all. If you want to add, taste test first and then add.
  • If you make 2x or 3x, you need to cook longer.

Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Saag Paneer Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 444 Calories from Fat 333
% Daily Value*
Fat 37g57%
Saturated Fat 22g138%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 97mg32%
Sodium 143mg6%
Potassium 586mg17%
Carbohydrates 14g5%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 16g32%
Vitamin A 8524IU170%
Vitamin C 49mg59%
Calcium 540mg54%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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Recipe Rating




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5 stars
Made this with baby kale and spinach. Tt turned out awesome. Thanks for the wonderful and easy recipe!!

5 stars
Great recipe! I used only spinach and just half of a red pepper, cause I can’t handle spicy food. Left out the chaunk, because I was too lazy and it was still yummy!

I know this is a repeat question. As seen in most of your recipes garam masala is used along with turmeric or other ground spices but for this saag you use it at the end. Like the other reader I am curious, is there a reason to add it later. Please share. I look forward to make a large batch of this saag paneer to freeze.

5 stars
I have been following your website for more than 8 years and every recipe I have made so far is absolutely amazing. This saag paneer is another amazing recipe. We don’t have mustard greens yet so used spinach and baby lacinato kale. The only step I did different was to blend the soaked cashews with yogurt and add at the near end. I was a bit afraid to cook further so did not do that but it was amazing with all the tempering, fried paneer and garlic. A squeeze of lemon made it even more delicious. Thank you and keep sharing.

5 stars
This recipe turned out so well for me yesterday, I made a double batch today. No bitterness so I did not need to add any sugar.
I used the 300g frozen spinach blocks for a single batch and used canned diced tomatoes which really cuts down on the prep time. I would add that I had better results using the blender compared to the immersion blender.
I do have a couple questions about the recipe instructions: 1) when adding and cooking the yogurt it curdles. This hasn’t impacted the final product but wondering if this is expected. 2) Garam masala is added at the end and not with the other spices earlier in cooking and I am wondering why. Thank you for a fantastic recipe!!! My partner and 1.5 yo love it!

This was my first time making Saag Panner. I followed the recipe to the letter (I used 2 cups spinach and 2 cups kale). However, the final product is extremely bitter. I don’t know what I did wrong I tried adding a bit more sugar but it didn’t help.
Is there anything I can do to get rid of the bitterness?

Thank you so much for your tips. I’ll try adding more heavy cream. I believe it is the kale that is bitter. When making this recipe again in the future, would it work using only spinach?

I have made several of your recipes and they all turned out great. Your dal makhani, chana and aloo gobi are our family favorites. This saag looks delish. Can I sub heavy cream with yogurt?

5 stars
This saag paneer is so good! I can’t eat green chili so used chili flakes and had to omit kasuri because didn’t have. I used frozen spinach, kale & doubled the cream. Fantastic!! Going to put this on rotation. This is the first recipe I am making from your website. Going to try more.

5 stars
Healthy and tasty recipes. Thank you for this recipe.

5 stars
Excellent saag paneer

5 stars
I made paneer using your recipe and it turned out great. I am looking forward to try this paneer saag. Is there a substitute for kasuri methi and asafoetida? I can’t find these anywhere near by. Do you think my saag is going to taste good without these ingredients? Please advice

5 stars
Love this recipe. I used 2 parts spinach and 1 part mustard greens. Tasted delicious! The only change was to cook the saag a little longer and used cashews to sub heavy cream.

Thank you, will give it a try