Saag Aloo: Indian Spinach and Potatoes, is a fantastic healthy side dish with tender cubes of potato, spinach, onions, and mild fragrant spices. It comes together quickly and simmers for 40 minutes while you get the rest of the dinner ready.
I threw a birthday dinner party for my sister-in-law a couple of weeks ago. It was an Indian-themed meal, with lamb biryani as the main course and saag aloo on the side. I immediately realized I had to share the recipe with you. Saag aloo is a fantastic side dish – simple, healthy, comforting and delicious. The potatoes are tender. The spinach is meltingly soft. The dish is delicately flavored with a kick of cayenne pepper, spicy mustard seeds, salt and pepper.
Saag is a leaf-based dish that’s extremely popular in India and Pakistan. It’s most commonly made with mustard greens or spinach. “Aloo” is Indian English for “potatoes.” I first spotted the recipe for saag aloo in my cookbook “Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking.” Jaffrey discusses how in India it’s extremely common to combine potatoes with almost every grain, meat and vegetable. She says saag aloo, made with frozen spinach, is one of her favorite recipes. I can see why. It’s a perfect side dish because of how easy it is to make something so satisfying, healthy, and delicious. I also love that it combines two side dishes – spinach and potatoes – into one.
HERE’S HOW THE RECIPE GOES: HOW TO MAKE SAAG ALOO: INDIAN SPINACH AND POTATOES
All you need for this dish is frozen spinach, potatoes, onions, garlic and a few spices – mustard seeds, cayenne, salt and pepper. Start by softening the frozen spinach in boiling water. Drain it. Squeeze out most of the water. Chop it, and set it aside. Slice and dice the onions, garlic and potatoes.
Heat oil in a large skillet with a cover. Add mustard seeds, followed by onions and garlic. Sauté for a minute or two. Add potatoes and cayenne. Toss.
A note about mustard seeds: Jaffrey’s recipe calls for black mustard seeds. Sometimes it’s hard to find black mustard seeds, so I decided to test the recipe two ways – once with black and once with yellow mustard seeds. The black seeds are a bit more intense in flavor but both versions were absolutely delicious.
After you toss the potatoes with the onion mixture, add the chopped spinach and a little water. Cover the pot and let it simmer. In 40 minutes, you’ll have delicious saag aloo, ready to enjoy!
Serve saag aloo with any grilled or roasted beef, lamb, chicken or fish dish or with any kind of curry. Here are a few Panning The Globe main dishes that I think would be especially good with saag aloo:
Indian Lamb Biryani Lamb biryani always gets raves. It’s a casserole of tender lamb curry and fragrant saffron rice – two outstanding dishes combined into one company worthy casserole.
Beef Rendang Brisket brisket cooked in the style of famously popular Indonesian beef rendang. The brisket is braised in a delicious curry of coconut milk, shallots, lemongrass, hot chilies, garlic and cinnamon.
Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry Spicy vegetarian curry of cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and green beans, topped with toasted cashews and cilantro.
Coconut Chicken with East African Flavors Tender chicken thighs in a spicy coconut curry sauce
Here’s the recipe for Saag Aloo. If you make this, I hope you’ll come back to leave a review and let me know how it turned out.
- 30-32 ounces of frozen whole leaf spinach (3 10-oz boxes or 2 16-oz bags) note: you can use chopped spinach, but I have a slight preference for the quality of whole leaf spinach.
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (or substitute yellow mustard seeds)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (use a pinch more if you like a lot of heat)
- 1¼ teaspoons of salt plus more, to taste
- 1½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch to 1-inch cubes
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Fill a large saucepan halfway with water and bring to a rolling boil. Add frozen spinach to the pot and cook, stirring, for a minute or two, just until spinach is defrosted and tender. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Squeeze the spinach in your hands to wring out most of the water. Chop the spinach coarsely and set aside.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven with a lid. Add mustard seeds. Leave them for just 30 seconds or so. As soon as they start to pop, add the onions and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, until the onions are slightly softened. Add potatoes and cayenne pepper. Toss to combine with onion mixture.
- Add spinach, salt and ¼ cup of water. Turn heat up to get the water sizzling. Cover pot and lower to a very gently simmer. Simmer gently for 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Give everything a stir every 15 minutes or so, adding a bit more water, if the pan looks dry.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot.