Vegetarian Treasury (Part 3) : Dhaba Style Palak Paneer

Vegetarian Treasury (Part 3) : Dhaba Style Palak Paneer


Vegetarian Treasury (Part 3) : Dhaba Style Palak Paneer

Saag is a quintessential Punjabi subzi/dish, which is quite flavorful, very healthy and makes a great accompaniment to roti/paratha/puri or just about any bread or rice dish. I love it for it’s taste. The fact that it is power-packed with superfoods rich in nutrients is just an added bonus. It could be an acquired taste if you are not used to the Indian palette.

During winter season, greens are available plenty and afresh and so some of these dishes are must-makes not just in Punjab but across all Indian households. The Punjabi tadka (tempering) in the end gives it an amazing kick and a boost and takes the subzi to the next level. . Don’t skip it.

Saag paneer can be made in a variety of different ways, with a variety of different combination of greens. Here, I have used mustard greens, spinach, and fenugreek leaves. Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) is favorite ingredient used among many Indians recipes, and so it’s a great addition to this dish. But, you can also make it without paneer. In this recipe, I also experimented using American cottage cheese and I was quite pleased with the result. It’s creamy texture definitely helps make the dish taste tastier.

I made two versions – using both Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and American cottage cheese that we get in non-Indian grocery stores. I love the versions equally and so it’s hard to pick one. Use whichever cottage cheese/tofu you have on hand.

To make the Dhaba Style Palak Paneer, follow the exact same recipe, except for instead of 3 green leafy vegetables, only use palak / spinach and you will get the yummiest Palak Paneer recipe you may have tried.

I have blogged about this recipe a couple of times in the past. Here it is, one more time. I have also included a couple of secrets of making it and keeping it bright green in color. Follow a couple of simple tricks and your saag would be an inviting bright green in color even on the next day. And also, leftover saag tastes way better on the 2nd day as all the spices sync in an makes it taste even yummier.

This subzi is gluten free. To make it vegan/dairy free, use tofu instead of paneer. You may also completely skip paneer/tofu and the subzi will still taste great.

Try this Dhaba Style or Restaurant Style Saag Paneer Recipe exactly the way it’s listed for the most authentic taste. Don’t miss out the 3 secret tips I have given in the recipe notes to keep the Saag Paneer (or Palak Paneer in case only using Spinach) lush green.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Punjabi
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings (slide to adjust): 4


  • 3/4 bunch Mustard greens (substitute with Broccoli rabe if Mustard leaves not available. You won’t feel any difference in taste)
  • 1 bunch Spinach
  • 1/4 bunch Fenugreek leaves
  • 1 qty Onion medium sized
  • 1/2 inch Ginger
  • 3-4 cloves Garlic
  • 1 qty Green chili
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam masala
  • 1.2 teaspoon Turmeric
  • to taste Salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons Lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Oil (can use any oil. I used partly mustard oil, partly avocado oil)
  • a pinch Baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons Cornmeal (can use corn flour instead)
  • 1 qty Dried red chili
  • 1/2 teaspoon Jeera
  • a pinch Asafetida (hing)
  • 250 grams Paneer (replace with tofu for vegan version)


  • Wash all the green leafy vegetables and roughly chop it.
  • Peel and finely chop onions, mince ginger, garlic, and green chili.
  • Heat water and add a pinch of baking soda.  Add the green leafy vegetables and bring it to a boil.  Do not cover the container.  After the first boil, let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and instantly put the greens in a container filled with water and ice.  After a few minutes, drain all the water out.
  •  Add lemon juice.  Grind the greens into a smooth paste.The use of baking soda, lemon juice and putting the greens in a container filled with cold water is to maintain the rich green color of the veggies.
  • Heat oil, add chopped garlic (leaving some aside for tempering), followed by ginger, green chillies, onions, each at an interval of about 30 seconds to a minute. Saute’ for about 5-7 minutes.Add the garam masala, salt, turmeric powder.  Saute’ for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the cornmeal/cornflour to half a cup of cold water and make a smooth paste. Add it to the above gravy. Saute’ for another 2 minutes.  Add the green vegetable paste and let it cook for 5-7 minutes. Then turn off the heat.   Add the paneer cubes / American cottage cheese / tofu cubes.   Add the subzi on to a serving plate.

For Tadka:

  • Heat a 2 teaspoons of oil. I used 1 teaspoon of avocado oil, and one teaspoon of mustard oil.  You may use any oil.
  • Add a pinch of asafetida to the hot oil, followed by the cumin seeds, dried whole red chili, garlic.  Once these ingredients splutter, and garlic is browned pour it over the saag paneer.
  • Enjoy with roti, paratha, or any other kind of bread or rice dish.


  • Chop the ginger and garlic very finely. Nicely minced garlic and ginger enhances the taste of this dish.
  • Throughout the cooking process, do not cover the container.
  • I love eating this with lots of lemon juice added on top. Try it, you may like it too.
  • Tips: The, use of baking powder when boiling, ice-bath right after boiling, and  lemon juice right before making the paste are the 3 tips that would keep the saag paneer lush green, not just on the day you make it, but also on the following day.
  • For making the paneer soft, heat a bowl of water for 1-2 minutes in microwave. Add paneer cubes in that hot water and leave it for few minutes.  Drain the water out.