Saag paneer

Saag paneer with steamed basmati rice.

I’ve always quite enjoyed Indian food, but it wasn’t until I moved to England that I gained a full appreciation for the cuisine and its myriad of tasty dishes.

Having a ‘curry takeout’ or going for a ‘curry’ is one of the most beloved of meals in the U.K and it’s reflected in the number of Indian restaurants that can be found in any one location.  In the small Worcestershire town that Adam and I lived in, there were at least half a dozen places you could get a curry.  Over the months I quickly developed a deep love for saag or palak paneer – most commonly, a mildly spiced spinach dish served with chunks of cooked paneer cheese.

The versions I’ve had so far here in Australia haven’t quite matched up to what I’d eaten in England, so the other week I decided to have a go at making the dish myself, adapting a recipe from the BBC’s Good Food website

What you’ll need

  • 2 x tablespoons of ghee
  • 1 x teaspoon of tumeric
  • 1 x teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli powder (I substituted this for paprika, but in retrospect I could’ve handled a little more flavour so might try proper chilli powder next time)
  • 450 grams of paneer, cut into 3cm cubes
  • 500 grams of spinach (I used two big bags of the pre-washed baby spinach leaves)
  • 1 x large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 x garlic cloves
  • Thumb sized piece of ginger (or a good spoonful of minced ginger)
  • 1 x green chilli, roughly chopped (I left this out, as I’m a bit of wimp with hot food!)
  •  tea1 xspoon of garam masala
  • Half a lemon, juiced to serve

(Note- I had a couple of chicken thighs that needed eating up so I added those to the dish too)

Chicken thigh and paneer cooking in a frypan.

How to do it

  1. Melt the ghee and whisk in the tumeric and chilli powder, then add in the paneer and coat well.
  2. Finely chop and combine the onion, garlic, ginger and green chilli (if using).  Cook the paneer (and chicken if adding) in a large non-stick frypan, until golden brown on all sides.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add the onion mix to the pan with a pinch a salt and turn the heat down.  Fry until caramel coloured and the onion’s softened.  Add a splash of water if it all looks a little dry.  Add the garam masala and stir to coat the onion.  Fry for a further two minutes or so.
  3. Add the spinach leaves, covering the pan with a lid to help them wilt down.  Add the paneer (and chicken) and cook for a further few minutes to ensure everything is heated through. Squeeze over some lemon juice.

I chose to serve my dish with some steamed basmati rice, but likewise you could serve with roti or naan.

Saag paneer with basmati rice.

As mentioned above, I could’ve definitely added a little more spice to the dish, so increase or decrease the amount of chilli powder and chilli to suit your taste.

There are dozens of versions of saag or palak paneer online – if you’ve got a favourite I’d love to know.

Happy cooking!

Have a wonderful weekend. x

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