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Saag (Indian spinach) recipe

Saag (Indian spinach) recipe

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Saag (spinach) is a very popular dish in the Punjab and all over India. It's usually cooked as an accompaniment to meat dishes but is also amazing on its own with some brown rice. Here's how to cook a quick and simple saag dish that tastes fantastic and melts in the mouth. The trick to getting a richer flavour is to buy the big leaves they sell in bunches at the local shop or supermarket if you can.

Greater London, England, UK

184 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 3cm (1 in) piece fresh root ginger, peeled and crushed
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 to 3 green chillies, minced
  • oil for frying
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 level teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 500g fresh spinach, best with big leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:20min ›Ready in:30min

  1. Blend ginger, garlic and chillies, or pound to a paste. Set to one side.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the finely chopped onion. Fry until soft but not brown.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies.Allow the flavours to infuse for a few minutes before adding the salt, garam masala, turmeric, cumin and ground coriander.
  4. Reduce the heat so the spices don’t burn and give the ‘tarkha’ as it’s called, a good stir.
  5. Add the spinach, reducing down on a high heat until most of the water has boiled away.
  6. Add 600ml (1 pt) water and once this has started to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting on a small hob.
  7. Squeeze in the lemon juice, add fenugreek leaves and leave to simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes.
  8. Turn the heat up and reduce the mixture down so that the leaves are fluffy but much of the moisture has boiled away and you have a thick consistency.


Serve with yogurt/raita and a chapati or rice and some pickle.

See it on my blog

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Cooking with Alison

Saag and palak are very popular Indian side dishes. Saag is a combination of greens such as spinach, mustard greens, and/or fenugreek leaves and palak is simply spinach. Some restaurants make these dishes thick and creamy whereas others make them thinner in consistency and healthier. The recipe I’ve shared below is for a quick and easy, thick and creamy saag or palak. I tried many different variations before I got this recipe just right. For example, I compared the textures of boiled spinach vs pan-cooked spinach, and food processor shredded spinach vs chopped spinach vs whole spinach leaves. I also compared the creaminess of using whipping cream vs yogurt vs whipping cream plus yogurt. I’m glad I didn’t give up, because I’ve made this for friends and family and everyone has loved it. (See here for tips on how to get the most flavour out of your Indian spices.)

Saag or Palak Recipe

1 pound (454 g) of fresh spinach leaves, washed, dried, bunched up together and sliced thinly

Optional: 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)

3 tablespoons ghee (recipe here) or vegetable oil

1/2 small onion, peeled and chopped into chunks

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger (Note: I use a Microplane grater)

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

salt to taste (I use several pinches of salt)

Optional: 1 fresh small tomato, sliced or cut into chunks (Note: The acidity of the fresh tomatoes adds a lovely compliment to the otherwise rich and heavy spinach.)

In the food processor, puree the onion, garlic and ginger and set aside (or you could finely dice the onion and finely mince the garlic). Whisk together the flour and whipping cream until well combined and set aside at room temperature. Melt the ghee over medium low heat in a deep skillet. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until softened, stirring frequently for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, and chilli powder and cook, stirring frequently for 30 seconds. Add the thinly sliced spinach, fenugreek leaves and salt, and cook over medium low heat until soft and most of the excess liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 8 minutes. If the spinach starts to get dry, add a little bit of water. Add the cream and flour and give it a few stirs until the spinach dish is mixed thoroughly with the cream and until it has thickened to your preferred consistency. Keep in mind that it will continue to thicken as it cools. If it is too thick, stir in a bit of water at a time. Optional: Add a few tomato slices on top as garnish or mix in a few tomato chunks. Serve hot with rice or bread (naan, chapati or roti).

Hi everyone. My new chana saag recipe is the first in a series I will be writing of recipes that you can make with ingredients you might already have on hand or can easily pick them up.

This chana saag recipe may not be exactly as I would normally make it but I promise, you will get great results. It’s tasty and can be whipped up in less than 20 minutes.

The chana saag can be easily amended to what you have on hand too. Just after the recipe instructions, I have listed ingredient substitutes that will work very well. I used what I have on hand but have tried all the substitutes and know they will work for you.

So think of this simple chana saag recipe as a guide but feel free to use up what you have.

I should point out that I would normally cook this recipe the British Indian Restaurant (BIR) way using my base curry sauce recipe and perhaps about 35ml (1/8 cup) tomato puree. If you have these ingredients on hand, go ahead and use them instead.

Using a base curry sauce, the cooking time will be even faster!

The fresh ingredients needed for the curry. Red onion could also be used and you could use garlic and ginger paste.

Infuse the oil with the delicious flavour of the cumin seeds for about 20 seconds.

Fry the onions until soft, translucent and lightly browned. Add the chillies and ground spices.

I would like to mention here that frozen spinach is an excellent substitute for fresh. In fact some say it is the better option.

Frozen spinach is available at most supermarkets and often comes in cubes. 2 cubes should be enough for this recipe.

Blend the tomatoes, garlic, ginger and half the spinach to a paste.

Once the onions are light brown, add the tomato and spinach paste.

Reduce the sauce down by about one third and then add the chickpeas and remaining spinach.

Cook the spinach until it wilts into the sauce. Then reduce the sauce down until you are happy with the consistency.

Be sure to read my ingredient substitutes below this chana saag recipe!

Looking for another easy recipe using ingredients you might already have on hand? Try my new cumin chicken curry!

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

In a 6- to 8-qt. pot, cook onion in oil over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add ginger and spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Working in batches, stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt and salt. Serve with steamed basmati rice and warm naan (Indian flatbread).

Note: Nutritional analysis is per 1 1/2-cup serving.

Chana saag can be refrigerated unto 5 days. For longer shelf life, freeze it. To reheat simply allow it to thaw and then reheat it in the microwave or stovetop in a pan.

Did you enjoy this protein packed vegetarian curry? Here are some more vegetarian recipes to try:

    – Copy cat Madras Lentils recipe – Creamy lentils with rice cooked pot in pot – A classic restaurant fav dish – Easy Instant Pot Recipe – Best way to enjoy dill with lots of garlic

Tried this recipe? We love your feedback. Please click on the stars in the recipe card below

Spinach and Feta Cooked Like Saag Paneer

Photo by Mackenzie Kelley

Here’s a familiar Indian takeout staple—saag paneer—but with the ingenious substitution of large cubes of feta for paneer (a bit of inspiration from our 1998 family trip to Athens and near continuous consumption of Greek salads, which in Greece are just…salads). The first time I tasted it, it was like when I discovered you can do the 9 times table with your fingers in third grade, which is to say, I just about lost it. Not only is my mom’s spinach gravy infinitely more complex than that of most versions of saag paneer (I have been known to steal sauce swipes out of the pan when my mom isn’t looking), but I also love the way the feta gets all soft and pseudo-baked, soaking in all the spices and melting a little into the gravy. And then you hit the pan with the oiled-up cumin and red chile powder, which add a whole other level of richness. I would go as far as to say that I now want all future saag paneer I eat to be made with feta. And I bet you will, too.

To begin, making the Kashmiri Saag Recipe wash and clean the spinach leaves well.

Finely chop them and set aside.

In a skillet, heat mustard oil until smoking point on medium high flame. Once it begins to smoke, turn off the flame.

Now add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, cardamom, red chillies, garlic and saute for a few minutes, until the garlic begins to turn into a light brown colour.

Finally add the washed and cut spinach leaves, sprinkle salt and continue to cook on medium-high heat until the spinach wilts down. Add the fennel powder and give Kashmiri Saag a good mix.

Turn off the flame, check the salt and spices and adjust to suit your taste. Once done transfer the Kashmiri Saag to a serving bowl and serve warm.

This is how the traditional Kashmiri Saag is made, however if you wish to, towards the end of making the dish, you could add 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder and 1 teaspoon lemon juice and a pinch of sugar, if you like to make your saag more flavorsome.

Serve Kashmiri Saag Recipe along with Phulkas and Mooli Raita for a simple weekday meal.

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For this Indian saag recipe, you’ll need:

  • Spinach: I use a 1 pound bag of frozen spinach for this recipe because it’s so much easier to steam compared to using fresh spinach. If you prefer fresh, use 2 pounds of fresh spinach leaves and cook them down in a pot with a splash of water so that they wilt faster.
  • Mustard leaves: These seasonal greens typically make their appearance in the spring and summer so if you have difficulty getting them, use more spinach or sub with broccoli rabe.
  • Broccoli: Use 2 cups fresh OR frozen fresh will take a little more time to chop.
  • Red onion: You can also use a yellow onion but I like the red color that these impart to the saag.
  • Tomatoes: Choose on-the-vine tomatoes that are bright red and ripe or use diced cherry tomatoes instead.
  • Garlic & ginger: These aromatics add a ton of flavor. Don’t sub with their powdered forms.
  • Cornmeal: Saag is often made creamy and thick by adding coconut milk or plain yogurt. In this recipe, I skip the added fat and mix some water with a small amount of cornmeal to thicken the saag.
  • Spices: cumin seeds and powder, turmeric, coriander, garam masala
  • Optional add-ins: pan-fried or baked tofu cube, chickpeas, cooked potato cubes

Nearly restaurant style curry is a new way to cook

As far as I can tell, this is a first in Indian cooking. I’m probably wrong about that but I can’t find anything like this anywhere. And I looked. A lot.

Let me know if you’ve seen this somewhere else please. Don’t mean to claim honours here if it’s been done anywhere.

The technique here borrows heavily from Indian restaurant technique. That’s why it works. Some tweaks of course. But that’s breaking new ground… Nearly restaurant ain’t bad. Pretty good even. Try it and let me know what you think…