Saag ‘Paneer’ Tofu & McCormick Spice Giveaway

Saag 'Paneer' Tofu

One of my father’s signature dishes is his palak paneer, which is the popular dish of spinach and cheese curry served at North Indian restaurants.  I have always been fascinated with how his version is a brilliant color green and so tasty even though he uses no butter or cream in his recipe.  One thing that I’ve noticed from watching him make this dish several times is that he just simmers his greens in a very small quantity of water that just lines the bottom of the pot.  I like his method because you end up using all of the nutrients from the greens in your curry and it is essential in getting a creamy texture without adding cream. Using his technique for steaming spinach, I developed a recipe for saag paneer.

Many times palak paneer and saag paneer are used interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference. ‘Palak’ in Hindi means spinach, while ‘saag’ means greens and usually refers to a dish made with a combination of greens like mustard greens, fenugreek leaves, bathau (sometimes referred to as lambs quarters) and spinach.

Saag 'Tofu' Paneer with Kale

In the past, I’ve used mustard greens, which come out greener I realize, but this time I used kale, spinach and dried fenugreek leaves.

I feel that adding some spinach mellows out the flavor and texture of the kale:

Making Saag 'Paneer' Tofu

These are the dried fenugreek leaves I used at the very end, which are optional if you don’t have.

Dried Methi Leaves

To make the dish healthier, instead of paneer, I used tofu that I lightly browned in a pan.

Tofu for Saag 'Paneer' Tofu

I couldn’t resist adding some yogurt at the end because I love the stuff. It’s a healthier alternative than cream, but I won’t judge if you go decadent:)

Saag Paneer with Tofu

At the time when I was developing this recipe, I was also invited by McCormick, the spice company to help celebrate their 125th anniversary of bringing spice blends from all over the world to home cooks in the US.  They sent me these lovely spices from their collection to experiment with.

McCormick Spices

As part of their anniversary, they are also donating $1, up to $1.25 million to United Way to help feed those in need for every ‘flavor story’  or comment about what flavors have been most profound for you in your life shared at their website or on their social channels.  I like this concept because on The ABCD’s of Cooking, I’ve really enjoyed telling my family’s story through the recipes that have been passed down from generations past.

McCormick is also offering my readers a chance to a win a McCormick Anniversary Pack, which includes exclusive McCormick Anniversary Edition product (both black pepper and vanilla extract – not available in stores), a McCormick recipe book and a branded canvas tote – all valued at $50.  All you have to do is comment on this post with the hashtag #flavorstory and share what a certain flavor represents for you or a memory relating to a flavor that is significant to you.

In my recipe, I used McCormick’s garam masala and curry powder, along with fresh ginger, green chilies and garlic.  My saag ‘paneer’ tofu goes perfectly with basmati rice or roti.

Thanks to McCormick for providing the spices for the recipe and giveaway for my readers. Don’t forget to comment below using #flavorstory to be entered to win.

 This giveaway is now closed and our winner has been notified. Congrats Jennifer Piejko!


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  • Dixya Bhattarai RD

    i love palak paneer but didnt know the difference between saag paneer and palak paneer. thanks for explaining. #flavorstory Being from Nepal, I heart cumin very much..and use it almost daily in cooking,.

    • Chitra Agrawal

      Thanks Dixya! Also a really great combo is saag and corn roti, also called maki roti. I think the bitter of the greens goes well with the sweet corn taste. Nice to hear your are from Nepal, on the list of places I would like to visit one day:)

  • Jennifer Piejko

    I love recipes like this, where you use a variety of greens. I would always grate nutmeg over dark sauteed greens too, but I like how creamy they turn out here #flavorstory

    • Chitra Agrawal

      Congratulations! You Won! Email me your address and McCormick will send you out your prize.

  • Prachi

    Thanks for the tip on cooking the greens without losing color or nutrients. Swiss chard is also a great option to use in this recipe. Freshly ground cardamom has become my recent must-have. The fragrance reminds me of the chai we were allowed to have only during school holidays. When used in the right quantity it lends great flavor to dals, curries and of course biryanis !!!!#flavorstory.

  • Shashi @ RunninSrilankan

    Love the green coloring of this paneer, your dad’s idea is brilliant! – I too didn’t know the difference between saag and palak, thanks so much for the info. Growing up my mom started every dish wish onions, garlic and ginger with powdered turmeric, curry powder and chili powder – the smells that infested our house were intoxicating! #flavorstory

  • Peggy Gilbey McMackin

    I love your shared family story and the recipe that you have adapted. My own #flavorstory has always involved a love of spices and how they work together. Then, following the adoption of my daughters from Korea beginning twenty-five years ago, and subsequently becoming part of an International Ladies group from around the world, the experience of these pleasures and their complexities really exploded. From hot chili powders to turmeric and garam masala to cumin and smoked paprika, I love it all. Among these treasures are some of my happiest memories. Special flavors and cherished moments all a part of the ‘spice of life.’ Thank you for sharing.

  • Jaclyn Reynolds

    I need to try your recipe, I love tofu! Vanilla extract reminds me of my grandmas cooking, I would really enjoy the prize package! #flavorstory

  • cezovski

    Hope this is still open. My best friend when I was growing up was
    Indian, so I grew to love the pungent smells and delicious flavors of
    Indian cooking — curry, cumin, tumeric and all the rest. These smells
    bring back childhood memories with my friend.

  • naturallyjoanna

    I so need to make this!!! Sounds absolutely delicious. I tried in the past to make saag paneer and it was not that tasty:( This one is very promisting!:)

  • food

    Thanks for replying and once again thanks for all this great recipes….
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