Saag aloo makes a great side or main dish for any curry night.
This delicious saag aloo recipe is so easy to prepare. The recipe was sent to me by my chef friend Vipin Vu who at the time was the head chef of Lake Canopy Hotel in Alleppey, Kerala. All of his dishes were amazing and this saag aloo was one of our vegetarian favourites.
Getting saag aloo just right…
At the restaurant, Vipin used a local spinach or saag which was different to what we get in the west. Here, most chefs use baby spinach leaves which work perfectly well in a saag aloo.
All is explained in the recipe card below but you really want to ensure that you don’t overcook the spinach in this one. Some saag aloo recipes call for blended spinach but with this version, you want to be able to see the individual wilted spinach leaves.
Also, always be sure to taste it before serving. You can always adjust the spicing to taste at any time during cooking.
Getting the spicing right…
In my version of this authentic saag aloo recipe, I use quite a lot of fresh chillies. This is done to my taste so if you are not sure, use less. The heat can always be adjusted before taking your saag aloo masterpiece to the table.
Cooking the potatoes…
You will first want to par-cook the potatoes just as you would if you’re making roast potatoes. This gives them a good head start. Shake the par-cooked when you strain them which will give them a fluffier exterior and make them crispier when fried.
Are there any convenient cheats for this saag aloo recipe?
Yes. Talking about roast potatoes, if you have some left over from Sunday dinner, use those. Leftover roast potatoes work perfectly well in this recipe. This applies to the frozen roast potatoes you can purchase in the freezer section of your local supermarket.
Just roast them up and use them.
You could also use frozen spinach cubes. Some say frozen spinach is better for you than the fresh stuff because it is frozen immediately when harvested.
That said, the dish will not look the same if you use frozen spinach in your saag aloo. The curry will still be delicious though.
How does this saag aloo differ to what you find at curry houses?
At curry houses, the curries are prepared with a base sauce. I have a lot of curry house style recipes on this blog but this isn’t one of them.
With the base sauce, you can quickly whip up a curry, any curry, in about 10 minutes. This recipe uses more authentic cooking techniques but the flavour is just as good if not better.
IMPORTANT: Infusing the mustard seeds and cumin seeds…
Many home chefs don’t realise how important it is to infuse their spices in the RIGHT ORDER.
Spices cook to perfection at differently. The black mustard seeds, for example can take a lot of heat. You want them to start crackling in the oil before adding any other whole spices.
This is why the cumin seeds are added to the oil only after those mustard seeds start bursting their flavour into the oil. If you were to add the cumin at the same time, it would burn and become bitter.
Is this recipe easy?
Sure is! You start by infusing mustard seeds and cumin into a little oil or ghee. Then you immediately add the chopped onions as they cool down the pan and prevent the spices from burning.
Then you just sauté those onions for about 7 minutes or until golden brown. Add in the garlic and ginger paste, fresh chillies and ground spices and your saag aloo is almost complete!
Stir in the par-cooked potatoes and brown them until beginning to get crispy on the exterior. Then just add the stock and fold in the spinach. You are going to be able to get this dish to the table in under 30 minutes even if you are starting with raw potatoes.
If you like this saag aloo recipe, you might like to try some of these curries too…
15 curry house curries from scratch!
- 600 g (1 1/4 lbs) floury potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
- 3 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil or ghee
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
- 2 green bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
- 1 red spur chilli, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp tomato concentrate paste
- 125 ml (½ cup) unsalted chicken stock
- 150 g (4 packed cups) baby spinach leaves
- 1 generous tsp kasoori methis (dried fenugreek leaves)
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste and optional
- 4 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
- Place the bite sized pieces of potato in a large frying pan and cover with hot water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to medium high and simmer to par-cook the potatoes until fork tender. You should easily be able to stick a fork in but the potatoes should still be a bit too hard for eating.
- Strain through a colander and set aside.
- Place your pan back over a medium high heat and add the ghee or oil. (I use ghee). Stir in the mustard seeds. When they begin to crackle and pop, add the cumin seeds and fry for a further 30 seconds.
- Now add the chopped red onions and fry for about 7 minutes or until the onions are soft and lightly browned.
- Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and stir it in for about 30 seconds. Then add the chillies and ground spices. Stir well to combine so that the onions are coated with the spices.
- Return the par-cooked potatoes to the pan and mix well with the other ingredients. Then add the stock and spinach leaves.
- Stir the spinach into the potatoes. As the spinach cooks, it will wilt and coat the potatoes nicely.
- Add the kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves by rubbing the leaves between your fingers. Continue simmering until the potatoes are completely cooked through.
- Season with salt to pepper to taste and garnish with more coriander (cilantro) and more thinly sliced red chillies if you want more heat.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 250Total Fat: 87gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 52gCholesterol: 183mgFiber: 132gSugar: 114gProtein: 293g
I hope you enjoy this saag aloo recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
Monday 4th of October 2021
Hi Dan, The HTTPS security certificate has just run out. As a consequence, anyone visiting your site will get instead a page saying that your website is unsafe. You need to talk to your host ASAP to correct this.
BTW, I live in France, and can't get curry where I am in the South of the country, so your recipes are a godsend to me. I have 2 of your books, and am considering getting the Vegetarian book. Keep up the good work !!
Wednesday 6th of October 2021
Thanks very much, the issue with the safety certificate is now fixed.Great you can now enjoy a curry in France! Dan
Wednesday 26th of May 2021
I will try this, but do you have a recipe for the Indian restaurant style? I can't seem to come up with a recipe that is anywhere as good and the online recipes are worse lol. Thanks
Friday 28th of May 2021
This is a BIR saag sauce, just add cooked potatoes to make is saag aloo Thanks Dan https://greatcurryrecipes.net/2020/08/29/saag-sauce/
Tuesday 14th of October 2014
You don't say in this recipe how long to cook the onion for. I let it get golden before adding the potato, but wasn't sure if this was necessary. Thanks
Saturday 8th of November 2014
It's really a personal thing. Browning the onions will give a deeper flavour. I usually only fry the onions until they are transparent and soft. Both ways will work though. Cheers Dan