Saag Aloo (Spinach & Potatoes)

Saag Aloo: This famous spinach and potato dish is extremely popular all over India and beyond. The Misty Ricardo version veers slightly away from the traditional method in that it uses some base gravy and mix powder, but other than that it is comparable to the desi style one might find being cooked in Indian households.

Serves 3-4 people as a side dish or as a main portion for one.

This recipe is one of many in my first award-winning book, Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 1.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3 TBSP (30-45ml) Oil or Ghee (or a combination)
  • 1 Tej Patta (Asian Bay Leaf) or a ‘regular’ European Bay Leaf
  • 10cm Cassia Bark
  • 2 Green Cardamom Pods, split open
  • 1 tsp Panch Phoran
  • ½ tsp Cumin Seeds
  • ½ tsp Black Mustard Seeds
  • 60-75g Onion, finely chopped (about half of a medium one)
  • 1½ tsp Ginger/Garlic paste
  • ½-1 tsp Kasuri Methi
  • 1 tsp Mix Powder
  • ½ tsp Turmeric
  • ¼ tsp Garam Masala

SPACEHOLDER

  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder (optional)
  • 180g Pre-Cooked Potato chunks, firm and slightly undercooked. To pre-cook, chop into generous chunks and par-boil with 1 tsp Salt and 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 140g Wilted Spinach (weight after squeezing water out), chopped
  • 3 TBSP Tomato Paste
  • 180ml+ Base Gravy, heated up
  • 2 fresh Tomato quarters
  • 1-2 tsp of Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp White Sugar (optional)
  • 2 tsp Butter Ghee (optional)
  • Sprinkle of fresh Coriander Leaves, finely chopped

METHOD

  1. Peel and chop the potato into bite size chunks. Place into boiling water with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp turmeric and simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked, but remain firm. Drain and set aside.
  2. If using fresh spinach, wilt it by placing in saucepan or wok with a little boiling water and oil or ghee. Stir for 1-2 minutes until the spinach has reduced considerably. Drain, squeeze out excess water, then chop finely.
  3. Add the oil/ghee to a frying pan on medium high heat.
  4. When the oil has heated, add the cassia bark, bay leaf, green cardamom pods, panch phoran, cumin seeds, and black mustard seeds.
  5. Fry for 30 seconds or until the black mustard seeds start popping. Stir frequently.
  6. Add the chopped onion and fry for 1-2 minutes or until soft and beginning to turn brown around the edges. Stir often.
  7. Next add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a further 30-40 seconds, or until you start to hear a slight crackling sound, meaning that the paste has cooked enough.
  8. Now add the kasuri methi, mix powder, turmeric, garam masala, salt, and the optional Kashmiri chilli powder.
  9. Fry for 20-30 seconds, initially adding a splash of base gravy to help prevent burning, stirring diligently.

SPACEHOLDER

  1. Add the tomato paste. Turn up the heat to high, stirring frequently until the oil separates and tiny craters form around the edges of the pan.
  2. Then add the pre-cooked potato and spinach and mix well into the sauce.
    Add 75ml of base gravy, stir into the sauce, and leave on high heat for 30-45 seconds.
  3. Now add a second 75ml of base gravy, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan once when first added, cooking down for another 30-45 seconds.
  4. Add the fresh tomato quarters, the lemon juice and the optional white sugar.
  5. Leave to cook on high heat for 4-5 minutes. Allow the mixture to stick and caramelise on the bottom and sides of the pan, scraping and stirring only very minimally to avoid burning – let a crust form. The saag aloo should turn out very thick, but as the potatoes soak up some of the sauce you may want to add extra base gravy for flavour and to allow more cooking time. It’s worth taking the extra time to cook the potatoes and spinach out to impart a smoky flavour.
  6. Just before serving, for extra richness and glossy appearance, stir in 2 tsp of butter ghee.
  7. Serve garnished with fresh coriander leaves.

NOTES

  • If you are not able to get hold of fresh spinach, many supermarkets sell it frozen in blocks. Make sure to defrost it and squeeze out excess liquid before using.
  • Waxy potatoes are best for this dish because they hold their shape better when bashed around. Examples include Charlotte, Maris Piper and Jersey Royals. I have also had success with large ones sold as ‘Baking Potatoes’.
  • All spoon measurements are level, i.e. 1 tsp=5 ml, 1 TBSP=15ml.
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