saag paneer recipe – saag is a famous north indian punjabi dish made with fresh winter greens. so logically saag paneer means paneer added to saag.
however, generally paneer is never added to saag. so what is saag paneer – i believe saag paneer is an invented dish made very popular abroad. in india i have never heard or seen anybody making saag paneer nor even any north indian restaurant serving saag paneer. at home also we don’t make saag paneer. palak paneer is made often but not saag paneer.
saag paneer and palak paneer are often considered to be the same. but palak paneer is not saag paneer. both are different. palak paneer is made only with spinach and saag is a combination of various greens that are used.
i spoke to my mil about saag paneer and she has never ever made saag paneer. she told me there are 4 variations of palak or spinach saag that she makes. one is made with mung lentils, another with bengal gram, third with potatoes also called as aloo palak and fourth with paneer… popularly known as palak paneer.
whatever the case, saag is a healthy as well a delicious dish. the term saag means greens. so saag can be made from vegetables like spinach, sarson (mustard greens), methi (fenugreek leaves), bathua (chenopodium) and kulfa (purslane). it is also made using tender leaves of chickpeas (chane ka saag).
you can also make saag by combining spinach, sarson and bathua together in appropriate quantity. i have made this saag paneer dish by using both spinach and methi (fenugreek leaves) and radish with homemade paneer (cottage cheese).
out of these various variations of making saag, spinach saag and sarson da saag are the most popular saag recipes. in fact one of the most famous punjabi dish is sarson da saag and makki di roti. sarson da saag is often made during winters. whereas spinach saag can be made through out the year.
there are few recipes which can be eaten for 2-3 days and they taste better as the recipe becomes old and saag is one such dish. on 2nd or 3rd day the saag is relished more because of the improvement in taste. but in case of saag paneer you have to eat it fresh as paneer is added to it. vegans can substitute tofu for paneer.
saag paneer recipe below:
- 1 bunch spinach (palak)
- 1 cup methi leaves (fenugreek leaves)
- 2 to 3 inches radish root (mooli) - peeled and chopped roughly
- 2 dry red chilies - kept whole or broken (sookhi lal mirch)
- 1 medium sized onion - roughly chopped
- 1 green chili - chopped (hari mirch)
- ½ inch ginger - chopped (adrak)
- 2 to 3 garlic - chopped (lahsun)
- 1 medium size tomato - chopped
- 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
- 1 small tej patta (indian bay leaf)
- 250 grams paneer (cottage cheese) - cubed
- a generous pinch of turmeric powder (haldi) - optional
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder (lal mirch powder)
- 1 or 1.5 tablespoon besan (gram flour) OR makki ka atta (maize flour)
- 1 teaspoon crushed kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves) - optional
- salt as required
- 2 tablespoon oil or butter
blanch the spinach, methi (fenugreek leaves) and radish.
drain and blend to a semi coarse paste.
shallow fry or pan fry the paneer cubes till light golden.
grind onion, ginger, garlic and chili to a fine paste.
heat oil and fry the cinnamon, red chilies and bay leaf till the oil becomes fragrant... about a minute.
add the onion paste. brown this paste.
keep on stirring in between while browning the paste.
add tomatoes, turmeric and red chili powder.
saute till the tomatoes become soft.
add the spinach-fenugreek-radish coarse paste.
stir and add makki ka atta (maize flour) or besan (gram flour)
stir well so that no lumps are formed.
add salt. add 1/2 cup water and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
lastly add the fried paneer cubes and crushed kasoori methi.
simmer saag paneer for a minute.
serve saag paneer hot with chapati or rotis or parathas or naan.
to remove the bitterness of the methi or fenugreek leaves. sprinkle some salt on the chopped leaves and keep aside for 20 mins. then squeeze the methi leaves so that the bitterness gets released in the juices. rinse them in water and then proceed as mentioned in the recipe.