Saag Paneer recipe from Rick Stein’s “India”. A north Indian spinach curry with green chilli, yoghurt and Paneer cheese, it is as authentic as it is delicious.
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Rick Stein’s Indian Saag Paneer
It is only occasionally that I share recipes from others on the blog. But Rick Stein’s Saag Paneer is so special and so delicious that I am making an exception. It is also in response to recipe requests received after I posted a couple of photos from a family meal on social media.
This particular Saag Paneer recipe comes from the book “India… In Search of the Perfect Curry”, which is a spin off from the BBC TV series Rick Stein’s India. AT GFHQ, we particularly like Rick Stein. The reason is simple. When he publishes recipes from his travels they are genuinely authentic. And that makes a huge difference to our wanting to make them.
What is Saag Paneer?
Saag Paneer is an Indian curry… A common listing on the menus of Indian restaurants and takeaways in the UK. You may well be familiar with it. And if you are, you will know that it essentially comprises two key ingredients :
Saag – which refers to the green leafy vegetables commonly found in India. Usually, this means spinach in dishes we find in the UK.
Paneer – An Indian semi-solid cottage cheese which is generally cubed. Although you can make Paneer at home, it is also commonly available in supermarkets in the chiller cabinets.
For Saag Paneer, the two are combined with onion, yoghurt and a blend of fresh and dried herbs and spices to make a wholesome, green spinach and cheese curry.
A love of Indian food
At GFHQ we adore Indian food. There is something about the spices and fragrance that is addictively lovely. Having travelled in India, I have been lucky enough to experience Indian food at its most authentic and best.
But let’s be clear. The food eaten there is nothing like the food that you get served in the vast majority of British restaurants. Whilst we may be a nation of curry lovers and have adopted curry as a ‘national dish’, once you have experienced the ‘real deal’, it is hard to dismiss the difference. Why? Because in India, you can literally taste each and every spice. The individual flavours shine and marry in perfect harmony. It is not about ‘heat’, but about the dance of flavours on the tongue.
So when we make curry at home, we aim to get as close to that experience as possible. Jars of curry paste are out. Individual spices mixed in the kitchen are in. There is no compromise.
An authentic recipe for Saag Paneer
Google ‘Saag Paneer recipe’ and you will get a list as long as a football pitch. Whilst the paneer and spicing from one to another has a common thread, the spinach is another matter.
Some appear to obliterate it before adding to the pan or recommend using frozen chopped spinach. Really? On what planet do the Indian’s use frozen spinach for authentic curry? Even in the largest cities, they head to the morning markets and buy veg fresh and real.
Other recipes suggest chopping the spinach fresh or cooking it until it’s effectively mush. That seems to fall short of our Indian experience too. Not only does it end up looking unappetising, but the benefits of all that amazing spinach nutrition must surely be tempered.
Not being Indian, I cannot of course be certain how Saag Paneer is cooked in each and every region of that vast and beautiful country. But I know what my experience was on the ground and Rick Stein’s recipe is as close as we have come to making it at home. Spinach should be cooked to a minimum so that it wilts, but still has goodness and bags of leafy texture.
Is it easy to make Indian Saag Paneer?
Saag Paneer is really easy to make at home. The ingredients are easily sourced in UK supermarkets and spice shops. Once prepped, cooking is a cinch.
You will note that one of the ingredients is ‘garam masala’. This is a blend of spices commonly used in Indian cooking. Although you can buy garam masala ready mixed in a jar, for the best flavour and taste-bud tingling excitement, you could try making your own at home as fresh as possible. There are many recipes on the internet, but I have included Rick Stein’s blend in the recipe below. For speed of cooking however, making your own is optional!
What to eat with Saag Paneer
Saag Paneer is usually eaten as part of an array of Indian curries shared at the table. It is perfect alongside Keema Matar and contrasts well with Peanut Butter Chicken Curry. However it is equally wonderful as a meal in itself served with rice and/or either my amazing Gluten Free Roti (soft flatbread) or our Indian flat breads.
Made this recipe?
If you make this recipe, let us know about it. It’s a regular dish on the table in our house, so we hope you love it as much as we do. Leave a comment, or tag us with your pics on social media.
Like I said, it is not our own recipe, but comes from Rick Stein and his Indian odyssey. If you love Indian food, I would definitely recommend his book ‘India’ (click to get on Amazon). It’s full of the most delicious dishes from his travels around the country with authenticity as important as taste.
And don’t forget we have an amazing Gluten Free Recipe Book Index for all your other gluten free cooking and baking inspiration too.
- large heavy-based frying pan/skillet (that has a lid)
- sharp vegetable knife
- silicon/wooden spoon/spatula
- 75 g ghee or butter or 75 ml veg oil
- 400 g onions finely chopped
- 30 g fresh ginger grated
- 6 cloves garlic = about 30g (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp garam masala already blended or see NOTES below to home-blend
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 400 g Paneer cheese cubed
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 500 g fresh spinach washed & rough chopped
- 1 fresh green chilli thinly sliced
- 100 g plain natural yoghurt
- handful fresh coriander leaves chopped
- Heat the ghee/butter/oil in a large heavy-based frying pan/skillet (that has a lid).
- Fry the onions, ginger & garlic on medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Stir in the turmeric, garam masala and chilli powder, followed by the paneer and fry for 2 to 3 minutes until the paneer is well coated with spices.
- Add the salt, spinach, green chilli and yoghurt. Put the lid on the pan and let the spinach wilt (a couple of minutes).
- Remove the lid and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until reduced to a thick, creamy sauce.
- Sprinkle with the chopped coriander and serve.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist