Culture Recipe of the Month

Recipe Of The Month: Spicy Saag Paneer

As part of an ongoing series focusing on food, The International is inviting writers to share a recipe that reminds them of home. This month, Sunna Coleman teaches us how to concoct a Spicy Saag Paneer – a hitherto closely guarded recipe of her mother.

By Sunna Coleman

Being very close with my mother – or ‘Ami’ as we lovingly call her in Urdu – I knew I would miss her a lot after getting married and moving away with my husband to a different county. Little did I know at the time, that the global pandemic would coincide with this big shift in my life and I would be banned from visiting my family for months on end.

But aside from our daily gupshup (gossip) over chai, one of the things I have missed the most is her downright delicious, generously portioned food – she’s quite the feeder, typical of Pakistani mothers. 

So, in an effort to comfort myself and get a taste from home, I decided to finally start learning her authentic Pakistani recipes for myself. But this was no easy feat. 

My mother has never been one for recipes – she’s a naturally gifted cook, who relies on instinct and experience to concoct her magical meals. And after a lot of back and forth and steady determination, I managed to pull out the original recipe for her spicy saag paneer. A homely dish made up of crispy paneer and creamy spinach with a kick!

Above: The finished spicy saag paneer.

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(Serves 2)

  • 500g bag of spinach
  • 2 packs of paneer cheese
  • 2 onions
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup of milk / oat milk / cream 
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp fenugreek powder


  • Cut the paneer into bite sized cubes 
  • Chop the onion
  • Chop the garlic


Step one:

  • In a large bowl, mix the paneer cubes with 1 tsp turmeric and 1 tbsp of chilli powder and set aside

Step two:

  • In a large saucepan, fry the onions in some oil for a few minutes to soften
  • Add the garlic and garlic paste and fry for a further two minutes or until the onions start to brown

Step three:

  • Stir in the spices – 1 tbsp chilli powder, 1 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tbsp ground coriander, 1 tbsp cumin, ½ tsp turmeric 
  • Fry for a further minute

Step four: 

  • A couple of handfuls at a time, add in the spinach leaves and wilt them in the pan
  • Add a pinch of salt
  • While you wait for the spinach leaves to wilt, fry the paneer cubes in a frying pan, turning often until browned

Step five

  • Add the milk / cream, 1 tsp garam masala and 1 tsp fenugreek to the spinach 
  • Taste and add any additional salt, chilli, garam masala or ground coriander to taste
  • Finally, mix in the paneer cubes and serve with garlic naan!

Sunna Coleman is the founder and editor in chief of the lifestyle and career blog Inspired in the City. On the blog, Sunna shares inspiring and educational content to help you live more sustainably, creatively and empowered.