Saag Aloo: A Delicious Dive into Indian Cuisine
If you’re going to learn to make just one Indian dish, we suggest it be Saag Aloo. This is one of those recipes where the results are so much more than the effort put into it. With just a few simple ingredients and about 15 minutes, this easy saag aloo recipe delivers a beautiful, nutritious, and amazingly delicious curry!
This traditional Northern Indian Punjabi curry recipe follows our Curry Formula. Instead of starting with onions, this aloo saag recipe uses asafoetida (aka hing) for that onion and garlic flavor. Then, traditional Indian spices such as cumin, mustard, turmeric, and garam masala are added before the potatoes and spinach bring the dish together. The whole recipe is ready to go in just a few minutes. Serve it with rice or flat bread for an easy vegan or vegetarian meal, or bake a piece of fish or chicken for a heartier meal.
What is Saag Aloo?
Saag directly translates from Hindi to English as dark leafy greens. Aloo translates to potatoes. In this recipe, the saag is spinach, but you can mix and match any greens. Mustard greens, kale, and collard greens work well in this recipe, though they may need a bit more time to cook down than the spinach.
This dish could also be called palak aloo as palak specifically translates to spinach. We choose to call it saag aloo because saag is also the word used to refer to a curry with a base of dark leafy greens. It’s also not uncommon to see this curry called aloo saag. Whatever you call it, it’s delicious!
You’ll find many different versions of this recipe. In popular British and American Indian restaurants, saag aloo often has cream added at the end of the cooking process. You could certainly add cream to this recipe, but we enjoy this more authentic saag aloo recipe that allows the vegetables to shine.
And leaving out the heavy cream brings us to this question:
Is Saag Aloo Healthy?
Saag Aloo is what we call a nutritional powerhouse!
- Leafy green goodness: Spinach and other dark leafy greens are packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron and folate.
- Potato power: Potatoes are a good source of potassium and fiber, keeping you feeling full and satisfied.
- Bring on the spices: Spices like turmeric have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
So, there you have it! Saag aloo is not just a delicious dish, but a healthy one. With its vibrant colors, complex flavors, and impressive nutritional profile, it’s no wonder this dish has captured hearts (and stomachs) around the world. So, put on your apron, unleash your inner chef, and whip up a batch of restaurant-style saag aloo that’s both delicious and good for you
Saag Aloo Ingredients
Cumin seeds bring an earthy, slightly bitter taste to this dish. Using whole seeds also adds a bit of texture.
Mustard seeds also add a crunchy texture to this curry recipe. Frying the mustard seeds actually removes much of their bitterness and brings out floral notes.
Asafoetida is an essential ingredient in many cuisines throughout India. Some Hindus and other religious groups avoid eating onions and garlic; asafoetida can be used to replace those flavors. Its flavor is pungent, slightly fermented, and sulfuric, much like garlic and onions. You’ll notice its strong aroma immediately disappears as it hits the hot oil.
Learn more about this uniquely Indian spice!
Turmeric, the vibrant yellow spice with its earthy aroma and warm, bitter flavor, is a staple in Northern Indian cuisine. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties and potential health benefits, turmeric’s golden hue and distinctive taste balances well with the rest of the ingredients in this Indian saag aloo recipe.
Kashmiri Chili Powder.
Vibrantly red, Kashmiri Chile Powder is a staple in Indian cooking. With a mild fruity flavor, this chili weighs in at 1000-2000 on the Scoville heat index, adding just a bit of fruity heat.
Garam masala, the quintessential spice blend of Northern Indian cuisine, is a unique blend of flavors, composed of coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. Each spice contributes its unique essence, creating a warm, aromatic blend that adds a warm, deep complexity to this simple dish.
Pacific Flake Sea Salt. Even though this recipe has lots of spice and flavor, the potatoes do need salt when boiling as well as in the final dish.
Tomato Paste. Tomato paste isn’t a spice, we know, but in this recipe it is used like one and added along with the spices. Be sure to cook it with the spices to deepen its flavor.
This recipe calls for fresh spinach, but you can certainly use frozen spinach if that is what you have available. If using frozen spinach, you won’t need to add any broth/water to steam the spinach, as it has already been steamed.
We like to use russet potatoes in this recipe, as they hold up well to both boiling and frying without getting mushy or falling apart. When boiling the potatoes, be sure to just barely cook the potatoes to tender – even undercooking by a minute or two. After boiling, drain in a colander and then place back in the hot pan and back on the hot burner (that is turned off) to dry out the potatoes.
Ghee is a traditional cooking fat in Northern India and adds a tremendous amount of flavor to this dish. A form of clarified butter, it has a high smoke point, which means you won’t have to worry about burning your butter.
To make this dish vegan, substitute a high smoke point oil such as sunflower or grapeseed oils for the ghee.
This dish uses just a ½ cup of chicken stock to quickly steam the spinach. If making this dish vegan or vegetarian, water or veggie broth will work just as well as chicken broth.
Technique. Or How to Make Saag Aloo
We can’t say it too many times, saag aloo is one of the easiest Indian curry recipes to make!
First step is to peel and chop the potatoes into bite size pieces. Then boil them in salted water until just barely tender.
While the potatoes boil, go ahead and gather all your spices and get the spinach ready, as once you can cook, the dish comes together in just about 3 minutes!
After the potatoes have been cooked and drained, heat the ghee up in a frying pan. As soon as a mustard seed dropped in the ghee pops, it is ready to put everything together.
Drop the rest of the mustard and cumin seeds into the oil. Let them pop for about 20–30 seconds. Add the rest of the spices. Stir into the ghee. Allow them to cook for around 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste. Allow the tomato spice mixture to cook for about 1 minute longer.
Add the potatoes. Stir until the tomato spice mixture coats the potatoes. Add the spinach and the broth. Stir until the spinach wilts.
And that’s it! You’ve created a classic Indian Curry from scratch!
Explore Other Indian Recipes.
Let’s Get Cooking!
Saag Aloo Recipe (Indian Spinach and Potatoes)
Saag aloo is a classic Indian dish featuring potatoes and spinach fried in spices. A fragrant vegetarian Indian recipe that can be made in just 25 minutes that makes a great side dish for curry night or a delicious and filling lunch by itself.
Place the potatoes in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 8–10 minutes until tender. Drain. Dry in the still hot pan over the burner which is turned off, but still hot.
Heat the ghee or oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, until a mustard seed dropped in starts to pop.
Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and cook for 30 seconds, or until the seeds start to pop. Drop in the Kashmiri Chili Powder as well as the asafoetida.
Stir in the turmeric, garam masala, and tomato paste. Stir together with the spices already in the pan.
Then, add in the potato and salt. Stir until the potatoes are coated with the ghee and spice mixture.
Pour in the chicken stock and add the spinach.
Stir until the spinach is wilted.
Remove from the heat and garnish with cilantro.