The Monsoon

Exploring the Delights of Paneer in Indian Dishes

Paneer is a fresh cheese widely used in Indian vegetarian cooking. It’s loved for its mild taste and ability to soak up flavours. To make paneer, milk is heated and curdled with lemon juice or vinegar, and then the curds are pressed into a solid block. It’s packed with protein and calcium, making it nutritious.

In Indian cuisine, paneer is a star in everyday meals and special dishes. You’ll find it in classics like Palak Paneer (paneer in spinach gravy), Paneer Tikka (grilled with spices), and Paneer Butter Masala (in tomato sauce). Its soft texture holds up well to grilling, frying, or simmering in curries. Paneer is culturally important and a part of vegetarian diets, offering a protein-rich alternative to meat.

Here are classic saag paneer dishes that you'll enjoy exploring

saag paneer recipe

Saag paneer recipe Ingredients:

  • 300g fresh spinach leaves, washed and trimmed
  • 200g paneer, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (for garnish)

Recreating restaurant quality Saag Paneer at home

  1. Start by blanching 300g of fresh spinach leaves in boiling water for about 2 minutes, then immediately transfer them to ice water to preserve their vibrant green colour.
  2. Drain the spinach well and blend it into a smooth puree using a blender or food processor.
  3. In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or ghee over medium heat. Fry 200g of paneer cubes until golden brown on all sides.
  4. Set the paneer aside.
  5. In the same pan, add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds and let them splutter, then add 1 finely chopped medium onion and sauté until golden brown.
  6. Add 3 cloves of minced garlic and a grated 1-inch piece of ginger, cooking for another minute until fragrant.
  7. Incorporate 2 medium finely chopped tomatoes and cook until they soften and the oil starts to separate.
  8. Stir in 1 teaspoon of ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala, cooking for 1-2 minutes.
  9. Pour in the spinach puree, season with salt to taste, and simmer for 5-7 minutes until slightly thickened.
  10. Add the fried paneer cubes to the spinach mixture and optionally stir in 2 tablespoons of heavy cream for a richer texture.
  11. Mix gently until heated through.
  12. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve hot with naan, roti, or rice for a delightful Saag Paneer experience.

Serves:

The quantities listed in the ingredients can generously serve 3 to 4 people as a main dish, ideally paired with rice or bread such as naan or roti

Variations and regional specialities of saag paneer dishes

Saag paneer, a popular North Indian dish, showcases regional variations across India and beyond, each offering unique flavours and ingredients.

  1. North Indian Saag Paneer:
    • Punjab: Traditional saag paneer is often made with mustard greens (sarson ka saag) or spinach (palak), cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, and spices like garam masala and turmeric. It includes paneer cubes simmered in the spinach or mustard greens puree until tender.
  2. Delhi Style Saag Paneer:
    • In Delhi and surrounding areas, the dish may include a blend of spinach and other greens like mustard greens or fenugreek leaves (methi), resulting in a slightly bitter yet flavorful profile. The spices used can vary, but Delhi saag paneer is typically rich and creamy.
  1. Rajasthani Saag Paneer:
    • Rajasthan’s version of saag paneer may incorporate locally available greens such as amaranth leaves (chaulai) or fenugreek leaves (methi), giving it a distinct flavour. The dish may also be spicier compared to other regional variations.
  2. South Indian Saag Paneer:
    • In South India, spinach or other local greens are used along with coconut milk or grated coconut to create a creamy texture. Spices like mustard seeds, curry leaves, and tamarind can also be added for a tangy twist.
  3. International Variations:
    • British Indian Saag Paneer: Found in many Indian restaurants in the UK, this version often leans towards a smoother texture with cream or yoghurt, catering to British tastes
    • American Saag Paneer: In the US, saag paneer has a milder spice profile and sometimes a thicker sauce consistency.

Dine-In or Takeaway in Spitalfields, London!

If you find yourself in Spitalfields, London, United Kingdom, and craving delicious saag paneer, make your way to The Monsoon. Renowned for its authentic Indian cuisine, this restaurant offers a variety of dishes, including a delightful assortment of paneer creations. Their saag paneer features tender marinated paneer, expertly prepared and served with your choice of naan or rice. It’s a must-try for paneer enthusiasts and Indian food lovers alike!

Share Your Recipes and Stories!

Celebrating the joy of cooking with paneer! Welcome you to share your beloved paneer dishes and cherished memories in the comments below. Your stories and recipes not only inspire others but also cultivate a vibrant community of paneer enthusiasts eager to discover new flavours and techniques. Let’s cook, share, and savour the magic of paneer together!