Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potato Curry)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
saag aloo

Unbelievably, after a conversation with my best friend Basil, I realized that I had yet to document and share a recipe from my kitchen for saag aloo here on my space. As this potato and spinach curry is one of the most popular North Indian vegetable dishes around the globe, I am rather ashamed to just be sharing a favorite version from my kitchen just now — and that after 7 1/2 years of blogging with particular attention to Indian cuisine! I've shared many classics over the years but somehow this earthy and spicy vegetable classic got lost in the shuffle. That oversight is now corrected.

curried potatoes and spinach

Gently baked and then pan-fried until golden, the potatoes then arrive back in the scene after aromatic spices are simmered with lemon, tomato and luscious fresh spinach. This curry ought not to be too soupy as you want the potatoes to absorb the flavors in the dish, but you also don't want to turn the potatoes to mush. Patience is key here — simmer the spinach to the point where is very little moisture left in the pan for the consistency that I find is signature to this dish.

Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potato Curry)Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potato Curry)
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on July 28, 2014

Classic dry Indian curry of potatoes and spinach simmered in tomatoes and spices

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  • 4 medium potatoes, baked or boiled until just fork tender and cooled
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • juice from 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 5 tablespoons ghee or sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 to 3 fresh green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 lb (450 g) fresh spinach, trimmed, and roughly choppped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Remove the skin from the potatoes and cut into small wedges. In a small bowl, whisk together the ground coriander, garam masala, ground turmeric, ground cumin, asafetida, sugar, lemon juice and water.

  • Heat the ghee or oil in a large heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the potatoes and fry until they are golden brown, gently stirring often, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the mustard and cumin seeds to the pan. Fry, stirring often, until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Toss in the chilies and ginger and stir for another minute. Now add the ground spice mixture and continue to stir for another few minutes until most of the water has evaporated. Now add the tomato and simmer for another 5 minutes or until the tomato has thickened and the liquid has evaporated.

  • Stir in the spinach a few handfuls at a time, until each handful is slightly wilted. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid, stir in the salt and cook for another 5 minutes or until most of the liquid from the spinach has evaporated.

  • Reduce the heat to low, gently stir in the potato wedges, and cook for another 5 minutes.

  • Serve hot as a vegetable side.

Makes 4 to 6 side servings

saag aloo

Other potato dishes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Aloo Gobi (Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes)
Aloo Mattar (Potato and Pea Curry)
Bengali-Style Crunchy Potatoes
Chickpea Vindaloo

On the top of the reading stack: Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Audio Accompaniment: Opto


Joanne said...

Saag aloo is one Indian dish I've never yet made in my kitchen! Must change that. This looks so good.

Sand Hill Art said...

Brings back memories of the years I lived in London. Always included this in my curry take-away.

Sadhna Grover said...

Awesome saag and aloo, this is my favourite side dish. Really tempting.

Anonymous said...

1 lb doesn't equal 900 g does it?

Also, do you mean to say peanut oil instead of sesame oil?

But thanks for the recipe! Trying it now.

Lisa Turner said...

Thanks for your comment. I have made the correction regarding the amount of grams of spinach. I did use sesame oil but you could use peanut oil instead if desired. Hope you enjoy the dish. It is one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

Hi, this looks like the the best Sag Aloo recipe I've seen in ages! I just wanted to know how long it takes to make because i have an assessment next Friday for an hour maximum. do you mind telling me how long it takes roughly. thanks

Lisa Turner said...

Roughly about 1 hour, if you prep the ingredients while the potatoes are roasting or boiled.

Julian said...

Just the thing I was looking for: thank you, Lisa. Aloo saag with parathas tonight, a good lunch for tomorrow. And you were at the top of the Google hits, so my kadai is raised to you. Julian.

Carrie said...

Hi, I just made this and had a little taste and it's yummy, even though I was missing a few spices and made it without tomato. I'm just wondering what kind of potatoes you use?

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Carrie: I usually use white potatoes.

Lina Spencer said...

Tried this tonight - it was delicious! The lemony flavour and spice mix were perfect!

Anon said...

I made this today but it tastes pretty salty. Is that the right amount of salt?

Lisa Turner said...

As always, adjust seasoning to your preference. That was the amount of sea salt I used and it was fine for my palate.

Harry D said...

Just made this for lunch and really enjoyed it - though a tad too lemony for my personal tastes. I'd definitely make it again and reduce the amount of lemon juice a bit. Also, I veganised it by subbing a vegan butter substitue spread in place of the ghee! I often do this with Indian recipes - it keeps that decadent oiliness without the need for dairy :-)

Pink Orchid said...

Love this recipe thanks for sharing

Christian said...

Hi, I am planning to make this tomorrow but wondered whether you meant the small or larger chillies? Thanks

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Christian. Thanks for your comment. I mean small chilies here. Hope you enjoy.

Soma kovoor said...

I tried this at my nieces was de- li-cious! I got the recipe from her and boy I am going to make it!

Linda Stanton said...

Cooking this as week speak. Smells delightful. Are you on Twitter?

Lisa Turner said...

Hope you enjoy Linda. Yes, I do have a twitter account. Just click on the button on my sidebar.

rach said...

Lisa, just had to tell you what a great recipe this is!! I had leftover spinach (that was destined for the bin) that I really wanted to eat... I had no tomatoes (or fresh chillies)but thought it would be ok thanks to having dried chillis and the previous commenter who said it'd be ok ...

no one else in my family wanted to eat it (kids and fussy husband) so for lunch I put a quarter serving between two mountain breads (thought about tortillas but didn't have any) and put a smear of mango chutney with it and and rolled it up... pure flavour joy...

this then developed into an idea that I hope pans out and that is to save the rest in the fridge and buy some eggs and to save three more as breakfast burritos.. anyway I'm pretty happy all round so just wanted to share and..

I don't see that i'll ever chuck spinach again ;-) thanks so much!

Lisa Turner said...

That's wonderful to hear. Thanks so much for your comment. And your breakfast idea sounds great.

Deb Gag said...

Hi I'm kind of confused on what spices are used where and what do I grind

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Deb,

I'm sorry that you found the spice instructions a little confusing ... I have updated the recipe slightly to make it clearer. But in a nutshell, the ground spice mixture refers to the mixture of ground coriander, garam masala, ground turmeric, ground cumin, sugar, lemon juice and water in the first step of the recipe.

You needn't grind anything yourself if you buy your coriander, garam masala, turmeric and cumin already ground, although you certainly can grind them from whole seeds (or, in the case of the turmeric, from the dried root) yourself for extra freshness.

I do hope that this helps and that you will enjoy the recipe.

Deb Gag said...

Thank you :)

Mummy Bubble said...

I am just trying this recipe, I am surprised that there isn't any garlic?

Also, what is asafetida, and where is it used in the recipe?


Lisa Turner said...

Not all Indian cooks use garlic in their cooking.

Asafetida is obtained from a fennel-like plant that grows mainly in India and Iran. The dried gum resin is available in powder form in the West. You can find it at Indian or Asian grocery stores, or online. It's commonly used in Indian cooking. Not much is needed and it does add a unique flavor that is often compared to garlic and onion. So, if you don't wish to include asafetida or can't find it, use a clove or two of garlic instead.

In this recipe, it goes in along with the powdered spices.

Hope you enjoy this recipe.

Nigel Green said...

It says 'stir until the water has evaporated'. When was the water added?

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Nigel. In the first step, the water gets mixed in with the spices and lemon juice. So, after the ginger and chilies go into the pan, the spices, with the water and lemon juice, go into the pot. Enjoy.

Kristine said...

My husband and I were craving an Indian dish and I just happened to have all the right ingredients for this---except the spinach! I only had baby arugula on hand and it actually turned out amazingly well. It has a little more flavor to it than spinach does, but it wilts just the same and it goes so well with the lemon.

BTW I never thought of cooking the potatoes first and then frying them. They turned out so crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Delicious!

Lisa Turner said...

Thank you for your comment Kristine. I'm delighted it worked out so well for you. The idea of arugula is brilliant. I must keep that in mind for something a little different.

Unknown said...

Excited to try this dish tonight! I have frozen spinach. Do I need to cook it differently since it is not fresh?

Lisa Turner said...

Thaw it and then add to the dish. Enjoy.

Suzanne Newnham said...

I made this last night to accompany a green thai curry, it was absolutely fantastic. Will make again!

Susie said...

I don't often comment on recipes, but today I had to because I tried this one and it was just delicious! It's definitely going on my rota of dishes to keep going back to. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Bernie Gamble said...

Excited to try making this dish! I want it for tomorrow and I was just wondering if it would be okay to make the day before and then reheat it when we're eating or is it better made on the day of eating so its fresh?

Lisa Turner said...

My apologies for the delayed response Bernie. You could make the day before and reheat but it's certainly best fresh.

Charlotte C said...

I think this is a really great recipe; the lemon/spice blend tastes delicious and authentic, &I can't wait to make it again! To mine, I just added plain boiled potato & 2tbsp oil, and also halved the portion sizes (I'm dieting, sadly), but even with these adjustments the dish was still filling& tasted wonderful. However, I'm sure the full fat/size version would be even better!

Mary Peterson Johnson said...

Wow! Outstanding! Delicious taste, color, and texture. I used lambs' quarters in place of spinach because there's so much available here in North Dakota.

Beth Schmaltz said...

Yes we loved purslane with it

Bryan O'Donnell said... have great patience!!

Mizzy-in-Swissy said...

Best Sag Aloo recipe I ever tasted. Better than the small undercooked potato portions you get from my local Indian Restaurant. So fragrant and delicious, thank you Lisa x