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Cheese-Free Saag Paneer: Spice Up Your Nutrition with this Recipe

By July 6, 2023Recipes
Reading Time: 2 minutes
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I love Indian food, but some of the dishes are just not compatible with my approach to healthy eating. Recently, I took my favorite Indian dish, saag paneer, and eliminated the non-compliant cheese. It came out great! I also swapped the traditional spinach for kale and it lost none of the delicious comfort of the original recipe.

If you’re a fan of Indian food (or even if you’re not), give this simple recipe a try and spice up your nutrition!

Cheese-Free Saag Paneer

If you’re a fan of Indian food (or even if you’re not), give this simple cheese-free recipe a try.

Category Dinner, Vegetarian
Compliance Level Kickstart, Lifestyle
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Author Alma Schneider


  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped seeded if you don't want it as hot
  • 1 lb frozen kale
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 tbsp butter, ghee, or neutral oil like avocado


  1. Thaw the kale or let sit out until defrosted, squeeze out most of the water, then puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the butter or oil as the pan warms.
  3. Add the onions, ginger, garlic, and jalapeno pepper.
  4. Saute the mixture until it’s evenly cooked and wilted, which should take about 15 minutes. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if it starts drying out.
  5. Add the garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and salt.
  6. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Add the kale and stir well, mixing the spiced onion mixture into the kale.
  8. Add 1/2 cup of water, stir, and cook about 5 minutes with the lid off.
  9. Turn the heat off and add the yogurt slowly so it doesn't curdle.
  10. Cook for a few more minutes and serve with brown rice, quinoa, or any vegetable base you like. You can pair this with your protein of choice, mix your protein right in, or just enjoy it as a nutritious vegetable-based meal on its own.
Photo 1 by Akash128 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Alma Schneider
Alma is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, cooking coach, and food blogger. She is the founder of Take Back the Kitchen, a lifestyle program created to help people recognize and overcome common and unique obstacles to planning and preparing healthy meals. Alma provides demonstrations, workshops, and speaking engagements for individuals and non-profits, as well as for corporate wellness workshops, lunch and learns, and company retreats.

Alma has presented at TEDx and is the recipient of The American Red Cross award for Community Service. She has been featured on the Today Show, TV Land, CBS News and is a frequent contributor for CBS, Diabetic Lifestyle, and She has been featured in Family Circle Magazine, Family Fun Magazine, and numerous other websites and publications. Her syndicated recipe column appears in more than twenty print and online newspapers. Alma has been on the Whole Life Challenge for a year and a half and has never felt better.