Saag Aloo is a North Indian dish usually made using spinach and potato, though ‘saag’ is a term also used to describe other greens, such as mustard leaves. There are many ‘saag’ based dishes across India, with many types of greens featuring heavily in Odisha and Punjabi cuisine (though not exclusively). ‘Aloo’ – potatoes – also feature heavily in food not only across India, but the world and indeed, my kitchen. They complete and add a little substance to what is a pleasantly descriptive name for a delicious and nutritious dish.
Not only is saag aloo popular in Punjabi cuisine, it has worked its way most impressively into the gastronomic consciousness of the West. Indeed, there are few Indian restaurants in my neck of the woods that fail to feature this green delight. Though usually considered a side dish, the nutritional value of both spinach and potatoes also, in my opinion, makes this dish a perfectly suitable main. Served alongside rice and chapatis, saag aloo really holds its own in a region of the globe where the chicken curry reigns supreme.
There aren’t any particularly hard or fast rules when it comes to flavouring a saag aloo, though I prefer to opt for simplicity and fragrance. A little turmeric, a scattering of black onion seeds and a sprinkling of garam masala is more than enough to really make your greens leap from the confines of their plate – not to forget the chilli and garlic, of course. If you don’t feel like following my immediate suggestions, cumin and cardamom are also popular spices used in this curry and would certainly go down a treat. Enjoy!
• 160g fresh spinach
• 300g new potatoes, 1 inch chunks
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, mashed
• 1-2 chillies, finely sliced
• ½ tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp black onion seeds
• 1 tsp garam masala
• 7-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1. Toast your spices in a large pan, drizzle in some oil and begin to cook the onions. Once the onions are translucent add the garlic, chillies, tomatoes and potatoes. After a few minutes add a splash of water (around 50-60ml), pop the lid on and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
2. Blanch the spinach until wilted in a pan of hot water. Transfer to a food processor and blend until almost like a paste. Once the potatoes are cooked stir in the spinach, add a little more water if necessary, season and serve with chapatis or rice.
Cost: Spinach and potatoes – the latter especially – are very reasonably priced ingredients. You get a lot of nutrition for your money with this dish and there’s no meat in sight. Indeed, the entire curry for two should set you back only £1.80.