This 30-Minute Saag Paneer recipe is pure MAGIC! Soft paneer chunks in a creamy mustard greens & spinach sauce. Every bite will melt in your mouth.
The velvety texture and subtle spicing of my 30-Minute Saag Paneer recipe ensures the peppery mustard leaves and juicy paneer are the true stars of the show.
You may or may not know that Saag Paneer and Palak Paneer are two completely different dishes. The names are often used interchangeably which is misleading. Indian restaurants and big supermarkets are usually the worst offenders when it comes to making this mistake. Let me explain the difference here.
A dish is made from a combination of leafy greens (usually including mustard leaves) and paneer is Saag Paneer. A dish is made from only spinach leaves and paneer is Palak Paneer.
You know how people always confuse Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie? Well, many mix up Saag Paneer and Palak Paneer in the same way. Each is made using different ingredients which means they have very unique flavours.
Not all greens taste the same so the combination of leaves used can make a HUGE difference in the finished dish. I’m always disappointed when I order Saag Paneer and am served a bowl of Palak Paneer. It definitely doesn’t have the same peppery kick from the mustard greens as Saag Paneer does.
The short answer is yes. In fact, I encourage it. You don’t have to make your own paneer for this recipe unless you really want to. If you do want to make your own paneer, head on over to my Instagram Stories Highlights (ep.1 Paneer) for a step-by-step tutorial.
Note: If you are using homemade paneer, you can skip the soaking in water step in this recipe.
I adore my pressure cooker. I’ve had one since I can remember because it’s so handy for making everyday Indian food. I use my pressure cooker for daal, curry, khichdi and more. It’s definitely one of my most prized possessions in the kitchen!
In this recipe, the pressure cooker breaks down the saag and aromatics in just 10 minutes. If you have an Instant Pot the saag takes around 5 minutes to cook on high power. If you don’t have either, bring everything to the boil in a large stock pot and cover with a lid. Cook for 30 minutes until everything is tender.
Simple! To make vegan Saag Paneer, switch the paneer for fried firm tofu cubes. Replace the butter in the recipe with your favourite plant-based spread.
My recipe calls for a blender because it makes quick work of creating a smooth sauce. For that reason, I use a high-powered NutriBullet. However, you can use any blender you have, including a stick blender.
It’s also fine to serve the Saag Paneer chunky if that’s what you like. In Northern India (where Saag Paneer comes from), people chop all the greens and aromatics finely before cooking the saag low and slow. The pot of saag is constantly beaten with a long spurtle (basically a wooden stick) to break everything down. You need serious arm power to make Saag under the Indian sun.
The finished dish is hearty and dark green.
Boil all the leafy greens and aromatics (ginger, garlic and onions) along with some water in a pressure cooker until tender. A pinch of baking soda will help the green cook quickly! This should only take 10 minutes, or 3 whistles in the cooker. Let it cool slightly.
Transfer everything to a blender and add the cornmeal. The cornmeal thickens the saag up nicely. As a result, it has a nice, velvety texture. I like to add a knob of butter to the blender to help everything emulsify to a silky sauce.
Soak the paneer in boiling water (I just use kettle water) for 5 minutes. You’ll see the colour of the paneer changes from a creamy yellow to bright white. This is good. After a soak, the paneer will be juicy and squidgy.
Give the inside of the pressure cooker a quick wipe. Heat butter in the pot and add the cumin seeds, ginger and chillies. Therefore, I add chillies right at the very end because I can remove a portion of the finished dish for Bodhi. Cook for a minute.
Add the saag mixture and stir. Cook for 5 minutes over a low heat, stirring all the time. Be careful as it will bubble and spit. Allow to thicken slightly. Stir in the salt and garam masala.
Add the drained paneer to the saag and stir well. Heat through and serve piping hot with your favourite roti, paratha or naan. Serve this 30-Minute Saag Paneer the traditional way with makki ki roti (thick cornmeal rotis), butter or ghee, onions and chillies.
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