Saag Paneer VS Palak Paneer | Recipes Differences and Similarities

The main difference between Saag Paneer vs Palak Paneer is the vegetables used in preparation. Palak paneer is prepared with palak (spinach) & Paneer, and Saag paneer is ready with various saag (leafy vegetables) & Paneer.

Haryana, Punjab, and California are renowned for their saag paneer and palak paneer recipes. Nowadays, Punjabi foods are famous worldwide.

Saag Paneer VS Palak Paneer
Saag Paneer VS Palak Paneer

Table of Contents

Saag Paneer VS Palak Paneer – Popularity Difference

Popularity is an important distinguishing factor between both dishes. Palak paneer is a world-famous Indian cuisine. Contrary to this, saag paneer is less prevalent. But both are homemade seasonal food cooked in rural style.

Comparison between palak paneer and saag paneer

Basis DistinctionPalak Paneer Saag Paneer
Colour Light green in colorDark green in color 
Blanching Blanching is preferred to retain the color. Blanching is avoided to retain the nutrients of leafy greens. 
Vegetables UsedPalak Varieties of saag like collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, kale, radish greens, Chenopodium (Bathua), fenugreek leaves, etc. 
Use of CreamThe cream is used to make the gravy rich. The cream is not used to make saag paneer. 
Restaurant AvailabilityAvailable throughout the year. Rarely found in restaurants. The dish is mainly cooked in rural areas. 
Popularity Palak paneer is a world-famous Indian Cuisine. Saag paneer is not as popular as palak paneer. 
Availability of IngredientsPalak is purchased all year round.Some leafy greens are only available in certain seasons. 
Comparison between Saag Paneer VS Palak Paneer

Saag Paneer VS Palak Paneer – Colour Difference

The first difference noticed between these two is color. Saag paneer is prepared with varieties of saag like collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, and kale. It gives the gravy a dark green appearance.

While preparing palak paneer, curd and cream are added. Thus its gravy turns a light green color. 

Saag Paneer VS Palak Paneer – Preparation style Difference

Many ingredients are used in preparing palak paneer to preserve its richness. For retaining the natural color, blanching is preferred. Homemade rustic style makes saag paneer that requires very few ingredients. Avoid blanching To maintain the goodness of leafy vegetables. 

Saag Paneer VS Palak Paneer – Availability Difference

The availability of leafy vegetables becomes an issue while preparing them. Palak is found all year round. Thus preparing a palak paneer is convenient. Saag paneer is a seasonal dish. Leafy greens used to make saag paneer are not accessible throughout the year. 

Saag Paneer Recipe – Preparation time 30 Minutes

Saag paneer is an Indian curry cooked in rustic and traditional style. It’s prepared from seasonal leafy greens, especially in North India. Vegetables like collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, kale, radish greens, chenopodium (Bathua), fenugreek leaves, etc., are used to make saag paneer.

You can also add amaranthus and chickpea leaves. The dish is relished with naan, kulcha, roti, fulkas (soft chapatis), etc.

Saag paneer
Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer Ingredients

  1. Vegetable oil (3 tablespoons)
  2. Paneer (1 packet/ 8 ounce) to be cut into small cubes
  3. Finely chopped onion (1 small)
  4. Finely chopped ginger (2 pieces)
  5. Chopped garlic cloves (2 and a half)
  6. Sliced chilly pepper (2 pieces)
  7. Garam masala (1 tablespoon)
  8. Cumin powder (1 tablespoon)
  9. Chopped spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, radish greens, Chenopodium (Bathua), and fenugreek leaves (the leafy greens change as per season)
  10. Salt as per taste
  11. Water

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How to make the best saag paneer curry in 5 steps?

  • Step 1: Take water in a large saucepan to add salt to cook. Then add spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, radish greens, Chenopodium (Bathua), and fenugreek leaves and boil them. Drain the leafy greens; squeeze as much water as you can.
  • Step 2: Cut the Paneer (cottage cheese) into cubes. Take oil in a skillet and heat it. After, add paneer cubes and roast until the color changes golden brown.
  • Step 3: Take a pan, add little oil and saute chili, ginger, garlic, and onions until they become translucent (for 5 minutes). Next, lower the flame, add cumin, salt, and garam masala and saute for a minute. 
  • Step 4: Add the leafy greens, mix well and allow it to cool down. Then put everything in a blender to make a thick paste. 
  • Step 5: Put a pan on gas, and add vegetable oil and leafy paste. Cook for a few minutes, then add the roasted paneer cubes. Mix it well and serve hot with naan, roti, fulka, kulcha, etc. 

Restaurant Style Saag Paneer

Cooking saag paneer in restaurant style is hassle-free. All ingredients mentioned above remain the same, and the cooking procedure is almost identical. You can use any seasonal leafy greens that are available. 

There is one difference while cooking restaurant-style saag paneer. The greens are not blended into a fine paste, but they are left a little chunky to give an authentic taste and look. 

Creamy Saag Paneer recipe

Creamy saag paneer is a classic vegetarian Indian dish. In traditional saag paneer, the use of cream is avoided. While preparing creamy saag paneer, we add fresh coconut milk or heavy cream. It makes the gravy smooth and gives the dish a lovely light green color. All other ingredients and the cooking process remains similar. 

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Palak Paneer recipe – Preparation time 30 Minutes

Palak paneer is a renowned vegetarian Indian dish. It’s prepared with palak (spinach) and Paneer (cottage cheese). Food lovers relish it with bread, naan, roti, kulcha, jeera rice, or plain rice.

The dish is served with pickles, sliced & raw onions, and green chilly. This recipe is known as “Green Paneer” in California and other United States cities. 

Palak Paneer
Palak Paneer

How to Choose Palak

  • Choose soft and light-medium green palak. Dark-colored leaves are bitter.
  • Avoid using palak stems or stalks while preparing the dish. They give it a metallic and bitter taste. 
  • You can use frozen palak instead of fresh ones. It makes the cooking process convenient—one packet of frozen palak substitutes for one and a half pounds of fresh palak. 

Palak Paneer Ingredients

  1. Spinach (1 and 1/4 pound/ 20 ounce)
  2. Paneer (1 packet/ 8 ounce) to be cut into small cubes
  3. Ghee or oil (4 tablespoons)
  4. Finely chopped onions (medium size)
  5. Minced and seeded serrano pepper (1 or 2)
  6. Minced fresh garlic cloves (8 to 10)
  7. Salt and pepper (half tablespoon)
  8. Cayenne pepper (optional) (one-fourth tablespoon)
  9. Whole milk/ cream (2% or three-fourth cup)
  10. Heavy cream (half cup)
  11. Dried fenugreek leaves (optional) (1 or 2 tablespoons)

How to make the best Palak Paneer Masala in 6 steps?

  • Step 1: Take water in a large saucepan to add salt to boil. Then add spinach and blanch it for a minute. After taking it out, put it into ice-cold water. Drain the water and squeeze as much as you can. 
  • Step 2: Cut Paneer (cottage cheese) into small cubes. Then heat a skillet and add one tablespoon of oil, butter, or ghee. Fry the paneer pieces until they turn golden brown (3 to 5 minutes). And place them on a plate and sprinkle a pinch of salt.
  • Step 3: Heat a pan and add three tablespoons of ghee. Saute the serrano and sliced onions for 10 minutes on medium heat (until the onions become translucent). Then add chopped garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Step 4: Add spinach (blanched) milk and allow it to boil. Then place the mixture into a blender to make a thick paste. 
  • Step 5: Put the mixture in a pan, and add pepper, salt, and cayenne (optional) on medium heat.
  • Step 6: Add cream and allow it to simmer for five minutes. Next, drop the paneer cubes and sprinkle some crushed fenugreek leaves. Cook for two minutes and serve hot with rice or naan.

Restaurant Style Palak Paneer

Preparing palak paneer in restaurant style is easy. All ingredients mentioned above (to make palak paneer masala) are used similarly. The cooking procedure is almost the same.

In addition, you can add chopped tomatoes (half/ one full) and onions. And cook until it becomes mushy & soft. Last, You can also sprinkle Kasuri methi with fenugreek leaves. It makes restaurant-style palak paneer aromatic. 

Dhaba Style Palak Paneer

Everybody loves to eat food at a Dhaba. Palak paneer is a famous dish served almost everywhere. The recipe is like that mentioned above.

In addition, a paste of cilantro (Dhaniya) is made and put into the palak paste before adding paneer cubes. The food at Dhaba is a little tangier. Add a good amount of yogurt and cook properly to give that spicy Dhaba taste. 

Tasty Palak Paneer recipe

Is Palak Paneer good for health?

Yes, palak paneer is good for health. Spinach has iron & nutrients, and Paneer contains calcium. Eating palak paneer proves beneficial for the digestive system. The dish is rich in folic acid, protein, magnesium, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin E, vitamin B2, zinc, and vitamin A. 

The Similarity between Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer

Both saag and palak paneer originated in Punjab, India. The common ingredient in the two dishes is “paneer,” and leafy green completes them. Spinach is used in palak paneer, and various leafy vegetables (like collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, kale, radish greens, Chenopodium (Bathua), fenugreek leaves, etc.) are used in saag paneer.

General masalas used to prepare are garam masala, coriander seed, cumin seed, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. Anyone can prepare both recipes at home. In terms of chilies, they range from low to medium spicy.

Pro Tips for Cooking Palak Paneer and Saag Paneer

  • Non-Blanching V/s Blanching: Blanching the spinach before preparing a puree is recommended. People on a less oxalate diet must always consume palak after blanching it. However, if you want to prepare palak paneer traditionally, use spinach without blanching, giving the dish a rustic taste.
  • To Preserve the Colour: Use garam masala to a minimum to give the dish a lovely light green color. Avoid overcooking; it makes palak paneer dark.
  • To Give a Creamy Texture: Add a few cashews to give palak paneer gravy a creamy texture. Additionally, 4 to 5 tablespoons of cream are added to make the gravy creamy. People also use blanched almonds to get a smooth texture.
  • How to Use Paneer: Paneer is the main ingredient in the palak paneer recipe. Use good quality paneer or prepare it at home. Homemade paneer is tender and melts in the mouth quickly. Soak it in lukewarm water if you use frozen paneer (20-25 minutes).

Final words

There is a nominal difference between Saag Paneer VS Palak Paneer. Majorly the type of leafy greens used in preparation differs, and Saag paneer is cooked with varieties of veggies. As its name suggests, palak paneer is made of only palak.

So, Did you ever prepare saag paneer or palak paneer? Which of both the curries is your favorite? 

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