Saag aloo recipe

This is a really great saag aloo (spinach + potato curry) recipe. There’s almost no chopping involved and the ingredients are almost entirely cupboard/freezer staples. It’s also great for people that avoid garlic or onion since the asafœtida contributes a similar flavour. Goes great with jeera rice.


Makes about 4 servings as a main.

Place 4 waxy potatoes in a large pot of cold, heavily salted water. Bring it to a boil and cook until tender. Peel them when cool enough to handle and then slice in to big-ish chunks.

In a small bowl, mix together ½ T ground coriander, 1½ t garam masala, ½ t ground turmeric, ½ t ground cumin, ¼ t asafœtida, ½ t cayenne pepper, a big pinch of salt, 1 t brown sugar, the juice of one lemon, and 2 T water. These measurements are approximate, note that you may need more depending on the freshness of your spices. Adjust to taste.

In a large, heavy pot, heat 5 T ghee on high. When hot, add the potatoes and fry them until golden brown. Season lightly with salt while frying. Don’t overcrowd the pan, do this in batches if need be.

Reduce the heat to medium and add 1 t brown mustard seed and 2 t cumin seed. Fry until the mustard is popping and the cumin is beginning to brown, stirring often. Add 1 t minced fresh ginger and stir for another minute (the pan may spit). Add the ground spice mixture and fry for a few minutes, then add 2 t tomato paste. Continue to fry for a few minutes until the mixture thickens and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Stir in 500–750 g (18–25 oz) frozen chopped spinach in batches. Wait until each batch has mostly incorporated before adding the next batch. When all of the spinach is incorporated, taste and adjust the seasonings as preferred. Continue to simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is quite thick.

Reduce the heat to low, gently stir in the potato, and cook for another few minutes. Serve as a main or a side.

Additional notes

If you don’t have ghee or want to make this vegan, use vegetable oil with a little bit of sesame oil.

If you don’t have asafœtida and it’s ok for the people that plan to eat the curry, fry some minced onion and/or garlic with the mustard and cumin seed.

If you don’t have garam masala, consider making it. There’s a very good chance you already have a lot of the ingredients (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, etc.). See this recipe for a starting point.

The cooked spinach will go quite dark, and that’s ok! It’s not meant to be bright green. If you want to have a smoother gravy, consider blending the spinach before it’s added to the pan.

Still not sure what the difference is between “palak” and “saag”, there are a lot of opinions out there. I think “saag” can refer to a lot of different leafy greens so consider throwing other greens in there as well, particularly if you need to use something up.