Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Saag Paneer (Paneer Cheese and Spinach Curry)

A delicious Indian curry, not just for vegetarians!

This is a really comforting and tasty curry - fantastic on its own, or as part of a selections of Indian dishes.

Traditionally the paneer cheese is fried before adding to the curry, giving it a tasty golden crust on the outside and a soft, fluffy texture on the inside. A similar effect (with less calories, if you're counting) can be achieved by placing the cheese on some greaseproof paper on a tray, and placing under a hot grill to brown it a little on the outside, or if preferred you could just stir the cheese in at the end and heat it through to keep the calories down.

Serves three to four light portions (or more if served as a side dish), easily halved or doubled. Paneer is a very mild Indian cheese, which is easy to make yourself at home if you wish (although this needs to be done the day before), and no special equipment is needed.

Calories per serving if not frying paneer cheese: 204 for a quarter (if split into four portions), 272 per serving, if split between three portions.


  • 1 x 225g pack paneer cut into 2cm cubes [383 calories – BUT check the nutritional info on the pack - this is based on 170 calories per 100g, but it can vary a lot between different brands] or 1/2 quantity home-made paneer
  • 500g fresh spinach [125]
  • 1/2 tbsp ghee, or coconut/sunflower/vegetable oil [62]
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds [3]
  • 1 green chilli sliced, or 1 tsp chilli powder (or less to taste) [6]
  • 2 medium red onions, finely sliced [82]
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed [30]
  • 2 inches ginger root, peeled and grated [7]
  • 2 tsp garam masala [14]
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric [3]
  • 400g (one tin) chopped tomatoes [100]
  • Salt to taste (approx 1 - 2 tsp suits us)
  • Oil to fry the paneer in, if making the full fat version

If you want to make the paneer cheese yourself, then you need to make this the day before, as it needs pressing/weighting down overnight. You will require 2.5 litres of milk and 5 tbsp lemon juice – guidelines for making paneer cheese are in a separate blog. Home-made paneer cheese is more delicate than pre-bought, so you will need to be careful not to break it up when stirring the curry.

1. If you want to make the 'full fat' version and fry the paneer cheese, take a pan with a good non-stick coating and heat a couple of tbsp or so of oil in the bottom, then fry the cheese in batches until golden on the outside, and set aside on kitchen paper to drain. Otherwise you can set on greaseproof paper on a metal tray and grill until just getting some colour, or simply add to the curry as it is at stage 4. Set aside.

2. Blanch the spinach in boiling water for two minutes, then refresh under cold water in a colander (or sieve). Drain off as much water as you can, squeezing gently, and then chop the spinach roughly (some restaurants serve the spinach pureed into a smooth sauce, which you also could do if you prefer) and set aside.

3. Heat the oil in the pan, then add the onion, garlic, fenugreek and chilli frying gently for about five minutes until the onion is softened and beginning to brown slightly. Add the chopped tomatoes, ginger and garam masala and then simmer until the liquid has reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the chopped spinach and paneer cubes, and heat through stirring gently and being careful not to break them up. Add salt to your taste.

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