Rooted Spices’ Favourite Saag Paneer

I should start by stating that this is not an authentic saag paneer. Though the more I looked into it, the more I questioned what an ‘authentic’ saag paneer looked like. British curry house versions often use pureed (tinned?) spinach with small, pale cubes of un-spiced paneer dotted throughout. It’s garlicky deliciousness, in its own right – but, (in my humble opinion), is better as a side dish rather than a healthy, mid-week main – which is the aim with this, (my favourite!), version.    

It’s unclear whether or not a Saag Paneer should be wet or dry. My preference lies with a wet one – who doesn’t love a bit of sauce?!
Unlike lots of spinach recipes, I don’t bother with any squeezing. This applies regardless of whether you’re cooking with fresh or frozen spinach. I can’t see the point of squeezing out green, spinach-flavoured juice only to replace it with water for a sauce.

I make this recipe frequently, and love it for its speed and healthy-credentials. Saag Paneer also has broad appeal (suitable for vegetarians, and the paneer can be replaced with tofu for a vegan version). It’s a mild recipe – lovers of heat might want to add a half teaspoon of Cayenne Chilli Powder alongside the (milder) Kashmiri Chilli Powder, for more of a kick, or serve with a big spoonful of hot lime pickle.


225g Paneer, cubed
1tsp turmeric
1tsp Kashmiri powder

1tbsp neutral oil (eg sunflower oil, vegetable oil)
2 small red onions (or 1 large), finely diced
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 knob of ginger, freshly grated (or a puck of frozen crushed ginger, defrosted)
1tsp turmeric
1tsp Daal Blend (or a good garam masala)
½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 fresh chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
75ml water
250ml fresh spinach leaves, washed (large leafs are preferable to baby, fresh mustard leaves, purslane and fresh fenugreek also make a great addition or combination)
1tbsp plain yoghurt
Salt, to season


First, make the spice rub for the paneer by mixing the turmeric and Kashmiri chilli powder. Put it in a container, and toss the cubed paneer in the spices, so they are all roughly coated.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onions on a medium-heat for about ten minutes, until soft and sweet. Add the diced tomatoes about half way through, to give them a chance to cook-down and for the liquid to evaporate.

Add another slug of oil, and then stir in fresh ginger, the turmeric, Daal blend, Kashmiri chilli powder, fresh chilli – and cook for roughly 1minute, or until fragrant.

Tip the water into the pan, and bring it to a simmer before adding the spinach leaves and covering, so the spinach leaves start steaming. Stir from time to time, to guarantee an even cook, while cooking the paneer.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan add the cubes of spiced paneer. Fry for roughly one minute before flipping, and continue until there’s an even crust on all sides.

Before serving, stir a tablespoon of yoghurt into the spiced spinach and season with salt. Divide rice between four bowls, ladle over the spiced spinach and all the juices, and then top with the spiced paneer.

spices used

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