This Slow Cooker Saag Paneer is a satisfying spinach dish comes together in just a few minutes, then a slow cooking session intensifies its flavors and creates a delicious vegetarian meal you will make all the time.
Slow Cooker Saag Paneer is an easy way to make saag paneer at home and create all the delicious flavors of Indian takeout. Make a batch of this Slow Cooker Chana Masala and Slow Cooker Butter Chicken for a full Indian feast at home.
A couple of weeks back, I included this Healthy Saag Paneer recipe in the vegetarian meal plans and, after getting some really positive responses, it seemed like the perfect thing to share this weekend. Packed with vegetables, fiber, and protein, this delicious dish s a great vegetarian meal. It also tastes awesome over chicken or beef if you want to a meat friendly option. Have leftovers? Serve on flatbread to make an Indian-inspired pizza.
What is Saag?
Although many Americans might think saag refers exclusively to a cooked food, saag is also the name used for raw, leafy greens that serve as the backbone of this Indian spinach recipe. So saag might be the moniker for spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, or any other dark green, leafy veggies. Likewise, the cooked dish called saag can be made with a wide variety of greens. The prepared dish might also include meat, seafood, or other vegetables -- such as potatoes or cauliflower.
Where to Buy Saag?
When you’re referring to the raw ingredients, spinach and some other dark, leafy greens, including kale, are easy to find fresh and frozen in just about any supermarket. Other more exotic varieties, such as fenugreek, may also be available at international groceries or other specialty stores. So, if you’d like to experiment with greens other than spinach, there are plenty of combinations to try. Just keep in mind that this slow-cooker saag paneer recipe won’t work with more delicate salad-type greens, so select something that will stand up well to hours of cooking.
You can also use more fresh greens and fewer frozen ones if you’d like, although it could change the texture of the finished dish. So if you play around with the ratio of fresh to frozen or substitute another leafy green for the spinach, you might need to experiment with some of the aspects of this recipe before settling on the saag recipe you like best.
As for the cooked dish, saag paneer is a staple at many Indian restaurants. You can also find prepared versions of saag, sometimes packaged in pouches and sometimes sold in cans, online or at international food stores. But why buy pre-packaged saag when it’s so simple to make yourself? It’s also easier than ever before to find ingredients in this saag paneer recipe, including garam masala and coconut milk. If they aren’t available at your local supermarket, you can check out the international stores in your area or buy what you need online.
Finally, if you can’t find paneer cheese, you can substitute tofu, as suggested in the recipe, or use ricotta (with the excess water pressed out) or farmer’s cheese. Paneer is also surprisingly easy to make at home. All you’ll need is whole milk, lemon juice, cheesecloth, and a little patience. There are plenty of paneer recipes out there, and I’d love to hear how your homemade cheese turns out if you give one of them a go.
Make It Vegan
Some saag paneer recipes call for cream, but I find substituting lite coconut milk adds creaminess and a subtly sweet flavor with far fewer calories and less fat. (By the way, be sure to buy unsweetened coconut milk.) Coconut milk is also non-dairy, which is great for folks with food sensitivities. And, simply substituting tofu for the paneer makes this Indian spinach recipe vegan-friendly, too.
If you use tofu instead of cheese, be sure to start with firm tofu and press out as much water as possible. Finally, cube it up and give it a quick fry in a little oil before adding it to the slow cooker.
Change It Up
This Indian spinach recipe is delicious on its own, but it also makes a super side dish. Try it on top of grilled tandoori chicken over some slices of lean, grilled sirloin steak, or alongside a baked cod fillet.
If you want to keep the dish vegetarian, you could also add some sauteed potatoes and onions. If you plan to serve your saag like this, consider leaving out the paneer. This will make the dish more like a traditional Indian side called saag aloo and I think the potatoes give it plenty of substance without the cheese. Along those same lines, adding cooked cauliflower and potatoes transforms the trio into another veggie variation -- aloo gobi saag.
So, while slow-cooker saag recipe is a great addition to any vegetarian meal plan, it can also serve as a starting point for many mouth-watering meals.
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Slow Cooker Saag Paneer - Indian Spinach
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- 4 U garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1.5 cups canned tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 14 oz canned lite coconut milk
- 30 oz frozen spinach, thawed
- 8 oz fresh spinach
- 12 oz paneer cheese
- Add everything to the slow cooker except for the fresh spinach and paneer cheese.
- Cook on low for 3 hours.
- Open and add the fresh spinach. Cook for 1 more hour.
- Blend everything using an immersion blender or blending batches. Return to the slow cooker.
- Add the cheese (or tofu) and cook for 1 more hour. Serve over quinoa, rice, or with Naan.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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