Did you know Saag Paneer and Palak Paneer are two different dishes?
Yes, these are two completely different curries.
So, what’s the difference?
That’s what you will find in this detailed guide of Saag Paneer vs. Palak Paneer.
Alright, let’s get started with the guide.
The Key Difference
The real difference between these two vegetable curries is the type of vegetables you use for the preparation.
Saag Paneer is made using Saag, i.e., a combination of different leafy vegetables.
On the other hand, Palak Paneer is only prepared using Palak, i.e., fresh Spinach leaves.
Paneer is the common ingredient in both the dishes, which helps get the richness to these curries.
So, this is the main difference between these green Indian curries.
If you are interested in knowing other differentiating factors, you should continue reading this article.
What Is Saag Paneer?
Saag Paneer is a traditional Indian curry.
As mentioned earlier, it is made using some specific types of leafy vegetables found in the North Indian region.
In India, we use Mustard Leaves, Spinach, Chenopodium (Bathua), Radish Greens, and Fenugreek Leaves to prepare this curry at home.
You can also add Chickpea Leaves and Amaranthus Leaves to this recipe.
It is often enjoyed with Roti, Naan, or Kulcha.
In case you don’t know, Makki Di Roti and Sarson Da Saag is a must-try combination!
You can also try this delicacy with soft Chapatis or Phulkas.
History of Saag Paneer
Since Paneer is not an ancient ingredient, Saag Paneer seems to be a recent invention in Indian food culture.
It is one of the most popular dishes in Punjab.
The dish is also popular in some of the East Indian states including, West Bengal and Odisha.
However, the tradition of making Saag is quite old in India.
In Odisha, you will find many variations of this leafy vegetable curry.
The locals also prepare Saag along with other dishes to offer it to their deities.
Here are some of the well-known Saag variations:
- Saag Paneer
- Aloo Saag
- Saag Gosht
- Saag Chicken
What Is Palak Paneer?
Palak Paneer is a similar combination dish.
It is made using Palak (Spinach Leaves) and Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese).
These are the main ingredients of the Palak Paneer recipe.
But it also requires some other ingredients to make it more delicious.
Note: If you are making Palak Paneer, you should only add Spinach leaves to this recipe.
As for the taste, it differs quite a lot from Saag Paneer.
And that’s because of the addition of different leafy vegetables in the Saag Paneer recipe.
If you are in the US, you might recognize this recipe as Green Paneer.
Sometimes, the Green Panner recipe may include other green veggies due to the unavailability of fresh Spinach leaves.
As for the serving, you can enjoy this dish with Roti, Naan, Bread, or Kulcha.
Traditionally, the locals also serve sliced Raw Onions, Pickles, and Green Chillies.
Some food lovers also relish it with plain rice or jeera rice.
History of Palak Paneer
Similar to Saag Paneer, it is not a very old recipe.
And it may have been derived from the authentic Saag recipe as well.
Palak Paneer also comes from the state of Punjab.
It is considered as a winter delicacy in the Northern part of the country.
You will find this dish on the menus of pretty much all the roadside Dhabas in the region.
Alright, now, let’s move to the more interesting sections.
The first one is the similarities!
Are there any similarities between these two dishes?
Let’s find out below.
Similarities Between Saag Paneer and Palak Paneer
|Saag Paneer||Palak Paneer|
|Origin||Punjab, India||Punjab, India|
|Taste||Medium Spicy||Medium Spicy|
|Can Be Made At Home||Yes||Yes|
|Common Spices||Cumin Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Cloves, Cinnamon, Black Pepper||Cumin Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Cloves, Cinnamon, Black Pepper|
Well, as the names suggest, Paneer is one of the common ingredients in both these dishes.
And you can’t miss out on this one while making these two delicacies.
So, that’s the first similarity between them.
Both the dishes are prepared with the help of leafy greens.
It is the main ingredient of these delicacies.
Although the vegetables used for making these curries are quite different, you need leafy vegetables to prepare both of them.
Since we are talking about the Saag Paneer vs. Palak Paneer comparison, we need to have different spices for these recipes.
Well, it’s not entirely true!
You don’t need a lot of different spices for these dishes.
In fact, there are quite a few common spices between these delicacies, which include –
- Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
- Coriander Seeds (Dhaniya)
- Black Pepper (Kali Mirch)
- Cinnamon (Dalchini)
- Cloves (Laung)
- Garam Masala
Some of the whole spices mentioned in the list above should only be used in the form of powdered spices.
You shouldn’t use them as a whole because it tends to affect the flavor and texture of the dishes.
Alternatively, you can purée them along with the Onion-Tomato base.
Note: You might come across many recipes that suggest various spices for these two recipes.
And that’s completely alright!
You can expect a couple of changes here and there with each recipe.
As you can see, there are quite a few similarities between these curries.
Now, let’s check out the differences below.
Difference Between Saag Paneer and Palak Paneer
|Saag Paneer||Palak Paneer|
|Color||Dark Green||Light Green|
|Blanching Process||Not Required||Required; for its peculiar Green color shade|
|Vegetables Used||Mustard Leaves, Spinach, Chenopodium (Bathua), Radish Greens, and Fenugreek Leaves||Spinach|
|Cream Requirement||Rarely Used||Often Used|
|Available In Restaurants||Rarely||Mostly|
The first noticeable difference between these two dishes is the color!
Saag Paneer often has a dark green shade due to the combination of several different leafy vegetables in this curry.
On the other hand, Palak Paneer or Spinach Curry always has a light green color due to the blanched leaves and addition of cream and yogurt.
Generally, when you order Palak Paneer from a restaurant, you often get to see this difference in color between these two dishes.
And the reason is the use of cream and similar milk-based ingredients.
Although there isn’t much of a difference in how you make these curries, the Palak Paneer delicacy requires more ingredients for richness.
On the contrary, Saag Paneer may or may not require such ingredients, as it’s often made in rustic homemade style.
The other difference is the blanching process!
Many professional chefs use this technique to retain the natural color of Palak leaves in their preparation.
But it’s not the case with homemade cooking styles.
When we make these curries at home, we avoid blanching the greens separately in order to retain the ‘goodness’ of these leaves in the curry.
Palak or Spinach can be grown throughout the year.
So, the availability is not really a big issue for this dish.
But when we talk about Saag Paneer, it needs a specific type of vegetables that may or may not be available throughout the year.
Therefore, it’s more of a seasonal dish as compared to Palak Paneer.
The other differentiating factor between these two dishes is the popularity.
As compared to Saag Paneer, Palak Paneer is way more popular in the world of Indian cuisine.
And it is one of those dishes that have brought states like Punjab and Haryana to the world’s map.
That’s it for this comparison between Saag and Palak Paneer!
I think the above comparison tables will give you some ideas on how both these dishes differ from each other.
If you think I have missed a few points here, do share them in your comments below.
In this section, you will find some of the most commonly asked questions from readers.
I hope some of these questions also answer your doubts and queries.
The answer is NO!
Saag is often a combination of different green vegetables, which may also contain Spinach or Palak.
Saag is also a generic Punjabi term for leafy vegetables.
In Kashmir, Saag is often referred to as Haak or Haakh.
The locals use different vegetables, though.
These green vegetables include Vopal Haak (Dandelions), Monj Haak (Kohlrabi), Mujj Haak (Radish Greens), etc.
Saag is a generic term for the leaves of different vegetables.
For e.g., Sarson da Saag, Methi da Saag, Palak da Saag, etc.
As mentioned in this guide earlier, Saag is also a delicious vegetable curry prepared in the region of Punjab and other Northern states of India.
There is no known information on who invented the Palak Paneer in the country.
However, it does seem like a variation of traditional Saag preparation.
Kale is often called as Karam Saag.
It is not an indigenous vegetable in the country, though.
Saag is a medium-spicy dish.
If you are not used to having Indian vegetable curries, you may find it a bit extra spicy.
Nevertheless, it’s not as spicy as some of the well known Punjabi curries.
Over To You
To be honest, even I didn’t know there were so many similarities and differences between these two dishes.
That’s what I like about Indian food culture.
There are so many different types of cuisines in the country.
And there is so much to learn from the rich heritage of Indian food.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this guide of Saag Paneer vs. Palak Paneer.
Have you tried Saag Paneer or Palak Paneer?
What’s your favorite between these two green vegetable curries?
Do let me know in the comments section below.
If you liked this comparison guide, don’t forget to share it with your friends and family.