Saag Paneer vs. Palak paneer: A Comparison and How-to Guide
When you think of Indian cuisine, what dish first comes into your mind? I bet you would say curry. But did you know that there are many kinds of curry, such as Saag paneer and Palak paneer?If you’ve happened to eat at an Indian restaurant, you would have likely noticed Saag paneer in the menu. Saag paneer is actually a type of vegetable curry. It is perhaps the second most famous vegetarian curry next only to choley or channa masala.
Palak paneer is also a type of curry. Many people often confuse it to be the same as Saag paneer. But the two are different.
A Comparison and How-to Guide
What’s the difference between Saag paneer and Palak paneer?
“Palak” is the Hindi word for spinach. As the word suggest, the dish makes use of spinach leaves for gravy.
Saag paneer, on the other hand, is a type of Palak paneer. “Saag” is a Hindi word that means green leafy vegetables. Thus, the dish can make use of spinach, or other green leafy vegetables like mustard greens and fenugreek leaves.
Saag paneer is a modified Palak paneer that has been adapted by cooks in other countries, particularly the US, to suit the local taste buds.
How nutritious are Saag paneer and Palak paneer?
Aside from being delicious, one reason why both Saag paneer and Palak paneer have become very popular in the western world is because of its many health benefits.
Both vegetable curries are considered weight loss food. I recommend adding either dish to your diet plan. Saag paneer and Palak paneer are both low in calories and fat. Both are very filling, too, so you would feel satiated for a long time when you eat either Saag paneer or Palak paneer.
Both dishes are also excellent sources of dietary fiber. Your digestive system will benefit from your regular consumption of Saag paneer and Palak paneer.
Palak paneer is also rich in vitamins A and K. With the incorporation of cottage cheese in the dish, Palak paneer provides B2 and B12 vitamins that play a crucial role in energy production.
People with high blood pressure should also eat a lot of these Indian dishes. Spinach, which is used in Palak paneer, can help in lowering blood pressure due to the high levels of magnesium. It also has antioxidants that can keep cholesterol levels low.
Spinach also has folate which is good for the cardiovascular system.
Finally, both vegetable curries are rich in protein which is essential to muscle building and body tissue repair. It can give you the amino acid your body needs, too.
How to make Saag Paneer
- 2 bunches of spinach, chopped
- 1 bunch of Fenugreek leaves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons of canola oil
- ½ pound of paneer, cubed
- 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 diced tomato
- 2 teaspoons of garam masala
- ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
Step by step guide
- Boil a large saucepan of water. Cook the spinach and fenugreek in the boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain well and put in a food processor. Puree for about 5 pulses.
- In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Fry the paneer cube until browned on all sides. Set aside.
- Heat another two tablespoons of canola oil in the skillet and fry the cumin seeds for about 3 minutes. Add the onion. Cook and stir for 4-5 minutes or until the onion begins to soften.
- Stir in the garlic, ginger, tomato, garam masala, turmeric and cayenne powder. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down and the onions are translucent.
- Stir in the spinach and fenugreek with the cream and paneer cubes. Add salt to taste. Cover and cook for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally.
This recipe should not take you more than an hour to prepare. It can make four servings.
How to make Palak paneer
This recipe should not take you more than 30 minutes to prepare. It can make 3 servings.
- 10 oz spinach
- 1 ½ cups of paneer (cubed into bite sized pieces)
- 1 finely chopped tomato
- 1 chopped green chili
- 1 tablespoon of ginger
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon of asafetida
- 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon of turmeric
- ½ teaspoon of red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Step by step guide
- Blanch the spinach by boiling 5-6 cups of water in a saucepan, and letting the spinach boil there for 1-2 minutes. Drain the water and place the spinach in ice cold water for 2 minutes.
- After draining the cold water, blend the spinach with the ginger and green chili.
- Soak the paneer in 3 cups of hot water for 5 minutes then set aside.
- Place a large sauce pan over medium-high heat and add oil. Add the cumin seed and asafetida. Add tomatoes after the cumin seed cracks then stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the turmeric, coriander, red chili powder, salt, and sugar. Stir before adding the spinach.
- Lower the heat to low once the spinach comes to boil. Let it cook for 5 minutes. Don’t cover the pot to keep the green color of the spinach.
- Mix the flour with ½ cup of water. Add spinach and cream. Mix it well and cook for five minutes.
- Drain the paneer and fold it gently with spinach. Let it simmer for 5 minutes then serve.
As you can see, there are differences in the ingredients and method of cooking Saag paneer and Palak paneer. But it can’t be denied that both are delicious and nutritious dishes.