Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer Recipe

We make saag paneer at home all the time. I'm talking once a week or every ten days. Wayne started it when he cooked Merrill's saag paneer one night, and from there it became a regular thing. The recipe has evolved and meandered quite a bit, so I thought I'd share the version I've settled into with you. I try to make it exactly the way I want to eat it, and quite honestly I'm not particularly hung up on the authenticity of it. At some point personal preference trumps everything else, even when you're dealing with a classic preparation. To that end, I cook the paneer cubes until they aren't just golden, they need to go well beyond that. I like them crispy cornered, and outright crusty. Beyond that, I chop the mountain of spinach you need here into flecks the size of big confetti. This assures no slurpy, sloppy, un-chewable greens. And I always use fresh spinach.

Saag Paneer

This is a saag paneer that uses a truckload of spinach, gets tang from buttermilk and a finishing squeeze of fresh lemon, magic from a host of spices, and a bit of heat from ginger and chile flakes. I bring on a bit of crunch and contrasting texture where ever I can - paneer, toasted sesame seeds, and add a touch of decadence with a splash of cream (you can use yogurt if you like). It is the sort of thing that is even better the day after - spread on thin crackers, or inside this sort of quesadilla. You make your own spice blend here, but you can certainly experiment with your own or a good store-bought blend.

Saag Paneer

A bunch of head notes here, apologies. This recipe calls for an incredible amount of spinach. Just know, it cooks down dramatically. I call for baby spinach, because it saves me having to trim a lot of unruly stems from bundles of spinach. Feel free to use any fresh spinach, but make sure it isn't overly stem-y. On the cheese front, Halloumi is a solid substitute for paneer, and here's a link if you want to make paneer at home. And if you like a higher cheese to spinach ratio, cook up 12 ounces of paneer. If I have canned crushed or whole tomatoes that need to be used up, I throw some of those in too (chopped/drained) - good. And if you have kale you need to use, trade chopped kale for some of the spinach if you like.

1 1/2 pounds fresh (baby) spinach, well washed and dried
2 tablespoons ghee, clarified butter, or unsalted butter
8 - 12 oz paneer cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium onions, finely chopped
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon spice mixture* (see below)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup buttermilk
splash of cream or dollop of plain yogurt (optional)

fresh lemon to finish, and toasted sesame seeds to sprinkle

Chop the spinach well, and set aside in a large bowl.

While you're chopping spinach, cook the paneer in one tablespoon of the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Make sure the paneer is in a single layer and use a spatula to flip it regularly so all sides get deeply brown. This typically takes 7 minutes or so. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat the other tablespoon of butter in your largest soup pot. Add the onions and salt, and saute until the onions soften up, five minutes or so. Add the garlic, ginger, spice mixture, and turmeric. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and nicely combined - a minute or two.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the spinach to the pan all at once, if possible. Cook, stirring all the while, until the spinach is collapsed and wilted, a couple of minutes. If you need to add the spinach in batches (adding more spinach as it collapses), that is fine too, just do it as quickly as possible.

Stir in the buttermilk and cream and heat gently while stirring. If the mixture seems dry, add more buttermilk a splash at a time (this rarely happens to me). Taste and add more salt if necessary and more red pepper flakes if you like. Add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice, stir in the paneer, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Serves 4-6.

*Spice Mixture: Use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to grind the following spices as finely as possible: 2 tablespoons cumin seed, 1 tablespoons coriander seed, 2 teaspoons mustard seed, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/8 teaspoon cardamom seeds, 3 whole cloves. Store in an airtight container and use as needed.

Prep time: 15 min - Cook time: 15 min

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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One of my favorite dishes of all time!

Belinda @zomppa

This looks incredible! The paneer, with the ghee, with the spinach and buttermilk. Whoa, you have me craving Indian food!

Averie @ Averie Cooks

Looks lovely. I was planning on making some paneer, and this gives me the motivation to go through with it! I assume you could use the whey from homemade paneer in place of the butter milk?

Also, your kitchen counter and white pot are so CLEAN! How is it possible to have such a bright white pot? The lid is practically invisible!


amazing! one of my favorite things to make of all time as well!


wow, I love saag paneer but guess I've never looked at a recipe for it...didn't realize it was so simple to make! The toasty paneer sounds extra delicious.

Jessica @ bake me away!

I have *always* wanted to make this at home. It's one of my favorites and I have it all the time when we go Indian and yet I've never attempted it. Not sure why. I have to say though I can't imagine my pot will hold that much spinach, it really is a lot :) I am going to assume that batches work and carry on with it this weekend. Thanks for posting Heidi.

Oana from dishchronicles

OH!!! I have everything in the fridge. Here comes dinner on Thursday, maybe friday. I have attempted this once before and it was good, but I'm looking for great and you always deliver. I think it's the name :)


I LOVE the simplicity of your recipes in creating intricate dishes; making this for sure.


How come we're just hearing about something you cook every week? ;) I make a version of saag paneer with chickpeas instead of paneer. Not exactly authentic, but it comes together faster than making my own paneer.

Have a good rest of the week :)


i've been wanting to make this forever at home - i always order it when i'm out!

lynn @ the actor's diet

This looks delicious. My husband loves spicey food so this will definitely be one for me to try. I also have a big bag of spinach to use up. Perfect :)


Saag paneer is just total comfort food for me and my husband - I usually just get it at restaurants, but now I'm inspired to try it at home! Thanks! :)

Anjali @ The Picky Eater

One of my favorite Indian dishes--can't beat homemade paneer. Now, to master Malai Kofta....


Looks delicious. Indian food is one of my favorite treats.


Never apologize about to much spinach. I eat so much spinach and kale so the more the merrier.

This looks like the perfect weekday lunch for me.

jackie @ marin mama cooks

A very good saag paneer indeed...I love the quesadilla stuffing idea- great for leftovers .


Oh Yes!!I Like it!!You gave me a good idea for today lunch!!
have a nice day!!


Lovely! It's a staple in our house too. I am less fussy about stem-y spinach because we blend the greens in our recipe; in fact I think saag paneer entered the regular rotation when we were repeatedly delivered stem-y chard in our vege box.

Since you're not hung up on authenticity, I'll admit that we sometimes substitute the paneer for tofu! Like you, we like to sauté it first and get a golden crust going.


is there any difference with Palak Paneer or is it just another name?


Never had this in my life (I know, it's very provincial of me) but now I really want this badly.
Just have to find Paneer cheese and I'm all set. Plus with all that spinach I just know it's going to be awesome!

Mike @TheIronYou

I love saag! I make mine with whatever green leafy things I've picked up at the farmer's market ... I figure, the greater the diversity in leaves, the better!

Yum. :)


I make saag paneer a lot too. bit of a spinach freak. One thing that interests me is the buttermilk. I've never tried that and I can imagine that it's great.

Mike, if you can't find paneer, it's very easy to make. Feels good too. Making your own cheese makes you feel very smug and self-sufficient!! - Emer


Beautiful recipe, I never quite new what went into saag paneer; or how much spinach it had! Looking forward to making a pot of it soon!

Amy (CookingScraps)

This recipe reminds me of "espinacas con garbanzos"--a Spanish recipe with spinach, garbanzos, garlic, cumin, and paprika. It seems like something that you'd like, if you haven't tried it yet. :)


Very VERY excited to try this on the weekend!!! I'm lucky enough to live near to a seriously good Indian place who do just about everything BUT a saag paneer!


ah, I love paneer and have been wanting to learn how to make it! thank you!

Simply Life


My world has been rocked to see this post. I'm SUCH a saag paneer lovah, and I love your take on it.

I'm on it! Woo hoo!

Sorry for the excitement.

Bev Weidner

Hi, I've just started following your blog - love it. I live in France and we have a wonderful dairy farm near us. I started making my own paneer last summer, very rewarding. I like it with peas too.

Sandra McNeill

Saag paneer/palak paneer or spinach in Hindi is known as "Palak" ..looks delicious..ghee and cream do adds to the richness of the gravy.Although addition of buttermilk is new to me, but sure it will add up to the flavour..thanks for sharing..


I cannot find paneer cheese locally. Is there another type of cheese that could be substituted?


wow!! it looks so good!! I want to try this!


I'll definitely have to try this - I've tried a number of recipes for saag paneer/tofu, and I've never been satisfied with the results. Thanks for a new recipe to try!


Wow - Indian food is my absolute favorite, but I rarely try cooking it at home. This definitely looks doable! I love your blog and cookbooks. Thanks!


We had our (vegan) version of palak/saag tofu last night (with tomatoes!) - we definitely make it at least once every two weeks. It's a perfect weeknight supper served alongside quinoa or basmati rice. I can't wait to try your spice mixture to switch it up a bit.

Tofu makes a fine substitute for paneer if you don't have access to an Indian market - just make sure to bake/pan-fry the tofu cubes until golden and firm prior to incorporating into the spinach.


This is one of my favourite Indian dishes.

Samantha Angela

This sounds fantastic! Can't believe it comes together so quickly.


Wonderful! I followed Gluten free girl's recipe and even made my own paneer which was increadibly easy and inexpensive. I have mounds of kale I am so glad you reccomended using kale as a subsitute for spinach, I look forward to trying your variation.


Making this is in my near future...might be my most adventurous dish yet. !


Looks simply divine!

Denise | Chez Danisse

I always want to make your recipes the second you post them, Heidi, and this is no exception! I have had a hard time finding paneer cheese around here, but I'll look at again at our local gourmet shop. I love saag paneer and it's high time that I try making my own!

Cookie + Kate

Always looking for a way to include spinach into my diet. thank you. Going to be hard to find that cheese in Miss - but I guess that means a trip to Fresh Foods! yay!


Oh this would be so good! I have to see what cheese I can find.

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

This meal looks outstanding! You've taken a dish that appears to be a difficult one to make, and made it simple to follow. I'll definitely try it...thanks!

Sarah @ Fresh Living

I've never made swag paneer, and can't wait to give it a try. Spinach and cheese is a combination I always go for.

la domestique

When I saw an Indian recipe posted my heart fluttered with joy!


"At some point personal preference trumps everything else, even when you're dealing with a classic preparation." - I've just added this to my list of amazing quotes. It's so true. Enjoyment rules the day. And this looks like something I need to enjoy soon. So wonderful. Thank you.

Mikaela Cowles

Saag paneer is one of my favorite dishes of all time. I love the idea of using buttermilk instead of lots of butter and cream. Can't wait to try it out!


Do you ever make the paneer yourself? I would like to know a good recipe (Isn't it just milk and lime juice?) - will be making this soon either way!

Adena Harford

This makes me happy :)


We are big on nutrient-dense leafy greens in my house, so this recipe got me hooked right away. I will definitely try it out, though I may substitute in some coconut milk for the buttermilk...hopefully that won't kill all the delicious creamy cheesy flavor. I like the idea of serving it with yogurt for an added tang. I'll let you know once I try this!

Julia {The Roasted Root}

Hi Heidi, I am Indian and was born here in the US and have spent about half of my life in both places, I have been cooking veggie meals since I was 11.

Try adding a little fenugreek leaves, maybe 1/4 cup - these are available sometimes fresh and all the time frozen in Indian stores.


This looks awesome! Great pictures, as always Saag paneer has always been one of my favorite things at Indian restaurants. Bring on the spinach!!!

Jenny Sansouci

I've never made saag paneer because it just seemed intimidating. This looks amazing though, and not as intimidating as I thought.

The pics make for an even better pre-lunch craving :)


I am interested in re-creating this as a dairy free recipe. I've substituted tofu for paneer in that past, but I'd welcome suggestions from anyone about how to replace the buttermilk.


Saag is also good made with rapini (or a mix of rapini or broccoli raab and spinach) with a carrot or two grated in for a bit of sweetness.


Whenever they have this dish at the WF hot bar, I load up on it. Will definitely be trying out this recipe!

mary @ what's cookin with mary

Very beautifully described.


I love paneer but have never made it myself, I will try this recipe.

I'm not too familar with the cheese, do you think it possible to use queso fresco instead? It seems to have the same texture and body....


I've never had Saag Paneer but it sounds utterly delicious. I can't wait to try this and it sounds so simple. Thanks for sharing.

Vicki Bensinger

Beautiful stuff. Have just come back from Milan and am craving spice and green things that don't come with carbs. This is perfect.

Tori (@eatori)

You can make variations of this with chicken and lamb. It's a great one pot meal.


Yum! I've only just recently learned the beauty of well-cooked spinach, especially in this form, and have also been known to make it about once a week. Eager to try your version.


Wow. This sounds great. We have a lot of spinach right now, so this will be perfect. Thanks.

I also agree that "authenticity" should be subordinate to taste. A good dish is a good dish, whatever you call it. Besides, if we only make the "authentic" version, where is the progress?

Stewart Putney

Mary, for a vegan buttermilk I am fairly sure I made this some years ago. From memory it was just lemon juice in soy milk and it worked perfectly. Google should bring up exact quantities.


I sprinkle my paneer with milk, then dust with fine cornmeal before frying. It gives eXtra crusty goodness :))))
Can't wait to try your tweaks!


I love saag paneer - and also paneer with peas (cheesy peas, as we used to call them in Glasgow). Truly wow!


not a comment but further inquiry - do you have a recipe for the spicey, tomatoey, oniony chutney that is usually served with Sagg in Indian restaurants?

I tried your recipe. YUMMY


I wonder if a dollop of coconut milk from the can would be a good substitute for the splash of cream/yogurt at the end.


Im just wondering if there is a spice mixture that would be suitable as a replacement? Garam Marsala perhaps??


My journey to homemade saag paneer tracks yours almost exactly. Nothing quite hit it just right, then there was Merrill's recipe, which changed everything, then we adapted just a bit. I'm also not so worried about the authenticity, because when you come right down to it, saag paneer is not the most authentic of Indian dishes to begin with.

A few months ago I started making my own paneer, too. So easy, though trickier to crisp up in the pan because it's never quite as firm and chewy as the purchased stuff.


speaking of the unda style egg quesadilla... that post was the first time I read your blog and it has become a recurring meal each time we have leftover corn tortillas. Can't wait to try the saag paneer!


Yummy; so pretty Heidi. I wanna bite!

The Healthy Apple

Tinks- thanks for the suggestion. For those interested who want to avoid the buttermilk, here's what I found:

Put 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Add in soy milk to equal 1 cup. Stir and let stand for 10 minutes. Rice milk does not work as well because of the lower protein content.
I can't wait to try this.


So timely- last week I trawled the internet searching for a yummy saag paneer recipe and voila you deliver a week later. Can't wait to try it.


I'm so happy! This is our favorite dish at Indian restaurants, and I've been meaning to perfect my home version of it, without having enough time to do too much experimenting. Now I can try this as my starting point. Thank you!


Sag Paneer is perhaps my favourite Indian dish, and whenever we get a takeaway, I order it! I've actually never tried to make it at home though, but this recipe looks really simply!


I liked the idea of using hallumi cheese- it's wonderful when grilled- will definetely try this version, thank you!:)

Ozlem's Turkish Table

I like it this way too - lots of spinach, chopped (not the puree/paste version) and slightly crisp paneer cubes. Never tried with buttermilk and sesame seeds, though.
I love anything with paneer! Have you tried Kadhai Paneer, Paneer Makhni, Shahi Paneer, etc?


hmmmm,I just love the sound of your version and I agree, personal preference is how it should be.

Kate Abbott

Looks great! I had a tamarind paneer at Vermillion in NYC recently, which I reviewed on my blog: I might try to make the tamarind paneer at home sometime soon.

Without Bacon

If I'm not up to making my own paneer, where do you get it? A good cheese shop? Any good alternatives that are easy to find?
Thanks! The recipe looks amazing.


saag paneer is one of my most beloved foods, and i make it often, but not often enough to have landed on a standing favorite. love the idea of buttermilk here, and amen to the caramelized paneer, which we do.


Saag Paneer is actually made using a)mustard leaves alone or b)a combination of mustard+spinach(for those who can't take the bitterness of mustard) with Paneer.It's a punjabi dish that goes with hand-ground corn rotis.
The recipes you see online only list Spinach as the main ingredient whereas it's mostly not.


This is one of our very favorite dishes, yet I've never tried to make it — but I will now, thanks to this inspiration.

Lisa | Dust with Flour

Love Saag Paneer! Always ready to eat it.


Heidi, I love your simple and individualized approach to this recipe. Saag has always been one of my favorites as well. I also find it's a greart way to use up greens (collards kale, chard) that are slightly past their prime in the fridge. I just chop them finely and mix with the spinach.

For the vegans, I usually make my saag with tofu sauteed in coconut oil instead o fpaneer and add a healthy spoonful or two or coconut cream at the end - it's delicious!


I make saag paneer a lot too, but for my vegan son I use fried cubes of tofu in lieu of paneer (a swap I was leery of at first, but which works wonderfully well), and a few tablespoons of coconut milk in lieu of cream. And the greens can be ANYTHING and still be delicious, in my experience: we make it with nettles all the time, because they're wild and free and we collect tons of them in the spring and store them in the freezer so they're always on hand.

HS: LOVE the nettles idea - I'm all over that. Maybe a blend.


I've just recently discovered saag paneer so I am thrilled to see this recipe posted! Thanks!!

Maria @ Orchard Bloom

I love saag paneer, but I never think to make it at home. I should since I always order it when I go out for Indian food. I love the extra crispy cheese.


Heidi, very warming to see how you made our traditional Saag Paneer to your taste.
We love it all the time.
One more thing....though this recipe will not show turmeric in it, but nevertheless we put it in the seasoning for its eternal goodness.


lovely to see this dish here.Back in India i grew up eating saag paneer and i totally get crispy stir fried paneer. My mom used to specially do it for me while my sister preferred raw/non fried paneer. You can also add tomatoes/puree to the dish a little of it changes the flavour a little bit. Loved your version and will give it try.


Wow! I bet I eat saag paneer only once a year, and I've definitely never made it. It's great to have a go-to recipe like this though. Can't wait to try it!


for dairy free: made this today, like some other's mentioned, with tofu instead of the cheese cubes and yogurt / soy creamer instead of buttermilk, it is really good! thanks heidi!


My only experience with Saag Paneer was selling it in the prepared foods section of a grocery store I worked in. It looked dreadful, so I never tried it, and still haven't. This sounds delicious though so it may be time. Thanks for sharing!




This looks so good. Saag Paneer is definitely a personal favourite. Can't wait to try it!


Hi Heidi...I just wanted to let you know I just bought your cookbook...Super Natural Cooking...and so a mum of 3, from a beachside town called Torquay in Australia is now regularly feeding her children your food! Thank you!


Saag Paneer is like a memory don the lane for me... Literary I grew up eating this everyday...
Yours look wonderful!!

Reem | Simply Reem

To take saag paneer to an entirely different plane, try using a slow cooker...the spinach just melts away...yum


This sounds great. I also love the idea, as Sarika mentioned, of making it in a slow cooker. I'll need to convert it to dairy free, but that shouldn't be too challenging. Famous last words!

Ellen (Gluten Free Diva)


Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I will make it this weekend after recovering from new carpet install. :)

I also wanted to tell you, I have been following your site ever since I began blogging a few years ago. You've been a great inspiration to me. Thanks so much!


I think I've led a sheltered life - I've never heard of this! It looks, and sounds, just wonderful. i learn something new every day!

Tracy A.

This was amazing!! One of my new favourite quick-fix dishes... thank you for your inspiring, wonderful blog! Keep up the good work- all the best from Norway:)


I love that you chop all the greens manually...I've always been told that Indian restaurants stuff whole leaves into a blender/food mill to get the consistency that they achieve... but I think chopping by hand would be the best thing and this sure looks marvelous! Bon appetit!

By the way, what is your favorite table bread in San Francisco?


Beautiful recipe and Photos!

Marie Leon

I love this! Can't wait to try it, I have a bumper crop of spinach on it's way...

Rocky Mountain Woman

I love making my own whole milk ricotta and the garden will soon be full of spinach, this sounds like the perfect dish to accommodate both.


Sense of Home Kitchen

I love this! Can't wait to try this recipe!


I've never made this but YUM! It looks so good! Have you ever made your own cheese? I've been making my own for a while and just opened my own diy cheese shop if you're interested in checking it out! I can't wait to make this!!


Halloumi is familiar to me - In the summer I like to grill with fresh figs on the BBQ. But I've never tried paneer cheese. Now it's a must!

Pinch and Swirl

I can't wait to try this at home, and save the take-out bill.


May I suggest just boiling your spinach first and grinding it. That will save you the effort of having to chop all the spinach leaves.

The sesame seed twist is a new one and I will definitely try that!


Blanching the spinach is also an option or as Vijay suggests above, blanching and making a paste gives a smoother texture to the curry. Sesame seeds provide the crunch..Yumm!


che meraviglia! è un blog stupendo! complimenti, ti seguo :)

Claudia annie

This is how my grand mother use to make
except , butter milk
Butter milk seems to be a good addition
Thanks a ton Heidi !!

ashish naithani

It has grown into a home favourite here as well: I make it almost every week. It is very easy and it is even better the day after as you say, so it's great for lunch boxes. I ended up adding herbs to mine with the spices, after some Persian/Afghan spinach dish I tried: dill and mint, in large quantities, make the spices sing even more. Dried herbs work fine.


Saag Paneer is one of my all-time favorite dishes! Putting my family on notice that although we have had Indian two times this week that we are having it again tonight! THANK YOU!

Jim Dougherty

The results were great--thanks for sharing. I used 100% chard from end-of-market clearance. With the ribs out and a longer cooking time it turned out great. Yum.

Heidi Sue Roth

Mmm. Love Indian food (and recipes tweaked to personal taste). Thanks for the tip about using it for filler for your unda-style quesadillas. I picked up one of those "orgreenic" pans from Walmart, and it's changing my ovo-centric life. Talk about hassle-free release and clean-up for egg dishes.

I really appreciate when you share easy recipes for things you eat regularly -- such treasures!


Oops. Forgot to mention -- if you have an immersion blender, you might save yourself chopping labor if you just cook down the spinach as is, and then see if the hand blender will work to puree the spinach after you add the buttermilk/cream. I could kiss the inventor of the immersion blender.


that's how I cook my saag Paneen minus ghee and sesame seeds . My kids enjoy it all the time and I use fat free milk to make my own paneer. One can also sustitute mexican cheese Queso Blanco too just don't use salt.


Baby spinach, buttermilk? Yum. I was thinking I would have trouble finding the paneer but I just checked your link and it doesn't seem that hard to make. (I find Halloumi to be unpleasantly salty but maybe I need to try another source.)


Paneer is divine! And perfect alongside this lovely sounding spinach!

Anna @ the shady pine

when i eat out, this is my go-to dish at indian restaurants. no matter where you go, its good. especially when you ask for it "indian spicy." thanks for posting this recipe, i can't wait to try it out at home for myself and see if it stacks up to the authentic stuff!

ps. at restaurants, i usually substitute the paneer for tofu. is there a type or preparation of tofu that would be better than others for this recipe?


Heidi, lovely photos, as always, and well described, as always!

@Claudia, I suggest using defrosted tofu and allowing it to mell with the sauce for 2 - 4 hours before eating, that way, all the flavors will seep into the tofu!


When I added the buttermilk, it separated and left alot of water, and some curds. Is it because I used light buttermilk? Isn't all buttermilk lowfat?

Cynthia Tompkins

I have somehow managed to get to 27 years old and never eat saag paneer, but I bought the ingredients at the greenmarket this morning! I am thinking of using a bit of dandelion in addition to the spinach, just because I love it. I also love that little white pot! It's gorgeous.


This also works great as a topping for pizza (reduce the moisture a bit so the bread does not get soggy) and some more shredded paneer or any other cheese on top.


Thanks for the great recipe! My husband and I made this the other night. He loves Indian food so we were excited to try your healthy saag paneer. It was great and surprisingly easy to make. Tasted wonderful the next day as well.


Just made this tonight and it was delicious! The buttermilk gave it a nice acidity/tartness. Didn't have a lemon to squeeze over it, but I imagine it would be just the thing. Definitely going to make this again.


I was unable to find paneer in my area. Though others may disagree, I used firm tofu and thought it was a fine substitute! Would make this dish again!


I love this dish, it's so great to be able to recreate it at home. Thanks!


I love saag paneer!

Rather than fry the paneer, i like to cube it and put it under the broiler until it is browned and crispy. (I usually have to cut up extra since about 1/4 of the broiled cubes end up being snacked on before making it into the pot with the greens and spices.)


In the 60's I had this wonderful book-The Yogi Cookbook- which now is somewhat dated since it was arranged for American markets but his recipes still fill me with wonder. The Indian lemon rice with peas, handmade chapatis, homemade ghee(easypeasy to quote Jamie Oliver) and paneer, another easy peasy.
The yogi suggested lemon juice but over time I tried various methods and now my favorite is from another Indian cook with whole milk yogurt. I am lucky to get mine from a small dairy upstate with Jersey cows that is sold in a few places in NYC. I laughed when the probiotic thing happened as my milk farmers always use five bacilli so that even the lactose intolerant could eat it.
And as an aside the Greeks did not invent strained yoghurt. I put mine in a coffee filter over a canning jar since the 70's. Either whey is marvelous in cooking or just in smoothies or yogurt drinks, spaghetti sauce for that matter as a bit of extra liquid. Italians add milk to their long simmering sauces after all. I put the paneer on cheesecloth on a cookie sheet, cover it with a cutting board and then weigh it down with that pot of water but tilt up one end and put a big bowl in the sink to catch all the run off. It freezes wonderfully once cut in pieces and has a meaty (ouch) texture I prefer to fresh for some things.
Listen to Heidi and make this. After all our lives are so much richer now that we follow her down them endless Internet halls.
LOL Yea, Heidi!


I had to make this and did last night along with homemade naan and curried chickpeas. So delicious. Thank you for your recipes and beautiful blog.


Wow, that sounds divine! I love Sag Paneer and could happily eat a bucket of the stuff! I look forward to trying your recipie! :)

Robbie Winter

Eating leftovers of this right now! yum!

Jane Stull

I made this! It was sort of thrilling to buy such a giant tub of spinach. Definitely not cheaper than ordering from a local Indian place, but so much fresher tasting and less oily. My only problem is that I have a small, poorly ventilated kitchen (I live in NYC) and now my apartment seems to be permanently Saag Paneer scented. What should I cook to chase the curry out? Grapefruit curd? Vanilla something?


Cauliflower is really good instead of paneer too - in fact the saag sauce can be used with all sorts of things. I make mine with (lots of) cumin and (a little) ground mace added to a bought "vegetable masala" spice mix, and cheat by grating the fresh ginger, onion, garlic, and fresh chillis instead of doing the mortar and pestle thing. I like my saag smooth, so I also cheat by microwaving it then blending it with a stick blender before adding it to the fried spices/onion etc.


Mine came out very wet, but not in a good, saucy/creamy way. It was more in an ugly green juicy way. I added cornstarch even and it didn't tighten up like I was hoping. Any tips? It did taste great! And the homemade paneer was delicious too.

HS: Hi Alyssa, I would just make sure you are using enough spinach, weigh it - because if you happened to use, let's say, 2/3 of the amount called for, it certainly will turn out on the wet side (and if I remember correctly, I actually scale back a bunch from Merill's recipe). Alternately, use the same amount of spinach you used this time, and scale back a bit on the buttermilk. Also, just know, leftovers really soak up the liquid. Part of the reason it's even better the day after. Hope this helps!


I love this dish and have been looking for a great recipe to make at home. This will also be a staple for dinner in my home.

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This was so delicious tonight. I added in some swiss chard, I think next time I"ll do 1/2 and 1/2.

Q for you--where in SF do we have the option to get fresh paneer? I know there is an Indian market in the mission that probably carries it, but I really hate going down there--you know, the parking, the transit, the filth. What are our other options? Or do you usually just roll with the halloumi?

HS: There's an Indian market tucked into the Safeway complex in lower fillmore that we go to. I'm blanking on the brand, but one of them is quite good! Cowgirl Creamery used to stock a great paneer - but I don't think it is being made anymore.


Heidi, I also made this over the weekend, and have been enjoying leftovers in in whole-wheat burritos for lunch. SO good. I got a 2.5 pound bag of spinach at the farmer's market. The look on my husband's face was priceless when I told him we were eating most of it for dinner that night! Thanks, as always, for another great recipe!


We made this for dinner a couple of nights ago, and it was fantastic. Served over rice and had leftovers for lunch the next day. I made the spice mixture as-is, and my husband and I agreed that we probably don't need to go to Indian restaurants for Saag Paneer anymore! I will also try wilting it first and blender with immersion blender. We liked the pieces of chopped spinach in this one, and it didn't really take that long. Thanks, Heidi!


Love this recipe. I sometimes add a bit of apple cider to mine to tweak the acid balance. Also prefer the regular spinach with stems vs. the baby greens. Adult spinach keeps nice texture when pureed.

Mark Lanham

I love palak paneer and can't wait to try your version, Heidi. When I make mine, I often substitute crisped cubes of sweet potato for the paneer. It's delicious.

Gail Horak

Great recipe. The buttermilk coagulates for me though. Any solutions?

HS: Hi Hari - I think you need to heat the buttermilk rather gently at the end - I'm going to reword that part of the recipe a bit so it's a bit more clear.


Love the photograph that accompanies this post. I grew up with South Indian food but will have to try this North Indian dish. Thanks for the post.


We made this over the weekend and unfortunately the buttermilk separated. (Unless it it supposed to?) Suggest removing from heat and leaving to cool slightly before the addition - we even checked the recipe to see if we had missed this step. I 'rescued' it by adding a very weak flour solution before adding in the final dollop of yoghurt. Tasted good though. Thanks.


MMM this is going on our favorites list!!! With every bite my husband took came a "wow, this is sooo good". Used bok Choy. cause that's whats growing in our garden now. And homemade yogurt. and paneer, of course. was so easy and delicious.
Thank you!!


This was delicious! I didn't have all of the ingredients for the spice mix, so i used Garam Masala instead. I don't know how close that comes to your flavorings, but it was a good spice mix to use with the spinach! I really liked the toasted paneer in this as well. I'd only had it untoasted in palak paneer before and this is a better texture and flavor.


I'm curious about your beautiful little white pot. It is very similar to a little yellow cast-iron pot my mom got for a wedding gift and has passed along to me -- that pot is over 50 years old and going strong. But I'd love to get something like your white pot for my daughters. Would you mind telling me the source? Thanks! And thanks for the lovely recipes!

HS: HI Terry - I found it in a vintage shop - the mark on the bottom says Club / Colorcast / Waterford / Ireland. Happy hunting!

Terry C

Could you use tofu instead of paneer here?, it has been suggested to me once before and would be a more suitable alternative health-wise for me.


I've never tried making my own paneer before so definitely going to give it a go. When I order it in a restaurant I often find that it is too soft and falls apart, I think that they don't always brown it before putting it in the curry which sounds like the way to go!

I love using saag as a side dish to a piece of indian spiced fish or something like that rather than as a main dish itself although like you say, you pretty much need to buy all the spinach in a 10 mile radius to make a couple of portions - well worth it in the end though.

Adam Levy

I made a vegan version of this last night - oil instead of ghee, crispy fried tofu instead of paneer, soy milk curdled with vinegar instead of buttermilk - added some curly kale to the mix - it was delicious!


I made this almost 1 week ago and as the days go by it simply gets better and better. Now I like my food spicy so I added more pepper flakes and I also added a can (yes I apolgize I used canned tomatoes with spices already in them) more yogurt then called for but it's amazing and I can't wait to try something else. Thank you SO much for your web sight as I could spend hours upon hours simply reading and looking at your fantastic pictures.


Made this for dinner this evening to great reviews from my (meat eating) husband. We both love saag paneer at Indian restaurants but this was different but better- less rich and fresher tasting. I too heated the buttermilk too quickly and it separated but I was in a hurry. My fault. Also used some whole and some ground spices (what I had on hand) and it worked fine. Thank you for a great recipe! Also here in Chicago most international markets seem to sell the paneer.


I need to do this recipe, tomorrow. I have been spending too much money being paneer from trader joes.


Oh, thank you so much for this recipe! I have to make it this week. I have all of the ingredients on hand except for the paneer. I appreciate the link to the homemade paneer recipe. I'm allergic to citrus. Perhaps I can substitute the lemon/lime for something else. Perhaps apple cider vinegar? Not sure.

Meanwhile, I've signed up for you newsletter. Love your site! Thanks for all you do. I'll definitely be back soon!

Carla @ Gluten Free Recipe Box

This looks delicious, I think this would be perfect for a Sunday lunch whilst all the family is round, can't wait to try out!

David Head

@carla You can use yogurt to split the milk. About a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup starting with 1/4 cup.

Kulsum at JourneyKitchen

Heidi - for the spice mixture - I have all those spices but they are pre-ground. Can I use the same measurements to create the blend?


I use Saag Paneer as a guide to a good Indian. If the Saag is good, so will the rest be. I like the way you have substituted all the cream they use for buttermilk. I was thinking of making a Greek version before you mentioned the Halloumi. Maybe with a few olives and loads of oregano. We shall see...


David Crichton

Just so happens I have spinach, kale AND buttermilk to use up. Will be making a version of this tonight -- paneer is pressing right now! I can't wait...


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