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Maneet Chauhan's Saag Paneer

Recipe by: Maneet Chauhan, chef and author of Chaat: Recipes from the Kitchens, Markets and Railways of India

Serves 4

Maneet Chauhan's Saag Paneer
Photo by:  

Asha Loupy

Excerpted from Chaat: Recipes from the Kitchens, Markets and Railways of India by Maneet Chauhan & Jody Eddy. Copyright © 2020. Available from Clarkson Potter.

Contrary to popular belief outside of India, saag means any dish made with leafy greens, not just spinach. In Jharkhand, saag dishes often include a variety of leafy greens that are indigenous to the region. In Nashville, I like to whip up this easy recipe on days when I need a reboot, packing it with a variety of greens I consume not only for their flavor but for their nutritional benefits. It feels fortifying eating this wat. Feel free to stick to the more common saag recipe, swapping in spinach for the arugula and kale, but if you're feeling adventurous, pack this recipe with healthful virtue by adding in as many greens as you can get your hands on. Suggestions include collards, carrot tops, beet tops, Swiss chard, or bok choy leaves. The possibilities are endless, and it's a fantastic recipe if you cook from a desire to eliminate food waste: All those vegetable tops have a home in this saag recipe. Feel free to swap out the paneer for any salty, firm cheese such as feta.

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  • 2 tablespoons ghee, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 teaspoon ground Baraka Green Cardamom
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Jodhana Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered Guntur Sannam Chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bindu Black Mustard seeds
  • Ping of hing (asafetida)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought ginger garlic paste
  • 2 serrano chiles, finely chopped
  • 2 cups packed arugula
  • 4 cups packed baby kale
  • 6 cups packed baby spinach
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces Paneer, store-bought or homemade
For serving
  • Basmati rice
  • Chapatis


  1. In a sauté pan, melt the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the cardamom, cumin, powdered chillies, mustard seeds, and hing and sauté until the mustard seeds begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and sauté until translucent and light golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ginger-garlic paste and serranos and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the arugula, kale, and spinach and sauté until the greens are wilted and the kale is tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the greens to a food processor. Add the cilantro and blend on medium speed until chunky but uniform. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste and return to the sauté pan. Set the pan over medium-low heat and gently stir in the paneer, being careful not to break it up. Cook until the paneer and saag are heated through, 4 to 6 minutes. (The Diaspora Co. team loves crisping the paneer cubes in a separate pan before folding them in, as pictured above.)
  3. To serve, spoon the saag and paneer into serving bowls, drizzle with melted ghee, and garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and chapatis.

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