Saag Aloo

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Crispy roasted potatoes, leafy greens, and a divine mix of Indian spices and aromatics get together in this elevated Saag Aloo recipe. It’s an indulgent and nourishing Indian side dish or main that will warm you from head to toe.
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Total 50 minutes
5 from 21 votes

There’s something deeply comforting about a Saag Aloo recipe. Maybe it’s the pillowy soft potatoes, silky leafy greens, or the warming Indian spices – whatever it is, I’m on board! Who knew the simple combination of potatoes and greens could taste SO good??

Just like Aloo Gobi, saag aloo is a classic Indian dish that’s nourishing and filling enough to be served as a main or side dish.

I stray a little ways away from the traditional version, though, which sautés and steams the potatoes. By roasting the potatoes instead, they take on the most indulgent buttery yet crisp texture that makes every bite of this spiced dish heavenly!

Table of contents:
1. What is Saag Aloo?
2. Why this recipe works 
3. Ingredient notes 
4. Step-by-step instructions
5. Tips for making this recipe
6. Frequently Asked Questions
7. Recipe card with notes

bowl of saag aloo with naan and lime wedges on a table.

What is Saag Aloo?

Saag aloo is a popular Indian and Pakistani side dish made by frying potatoes (aloo) and leafy greens (saag) in spices and aromatics. It’s traditionally served as a side dish but is filling and comforting enough to enjoy as the main event.

In India, saag doesn’t refer to just one type of leafy green. Instead, it can refer to various greens, such as mustard greens, fenugreek leaves, or spinach (also known as palak). Since some of these greens are hard to find in the U.S., I use baby spinach to ensure a quick and accessible dish, so you can also call it aloo palak (or palak aloo).

And just like Aloo Gobi, there are dry versions of saag aloo and wet or “curry” versions of it. My recipe shows you how to make the dry version.

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Why this recipe works 

Streamlined method = mouthwatering results

Traditional saag aloo recipes steam-sauté the potatoes in the same pan as the masala. However, after extensively testing my Aloo Gobi recipe, I found that this method had me stirring for long periods of time only to be left with meh-flavored potatoes. They either didn’t cook all the way through or left some potatoes tender and others not. 

Instead, I opt for a nontraditional, albeit convenient method that resulted in mouthwatering potatoes: roasting.

By roasting the potatoes in the oven, their hidden flavors are brought to the forefront while they also develop a gorgeous golden crust and tender-crisp texture. 

Oven roasting also means the potatoes don’t need to be flipped or tossed, so less babysitting for you! All of this extra time allows you to work on the second component of the dish: the masala. 

The best Indian comfort food

Everyone I served this to has said something along the lines of, “This dish is like Indian restaurant comfort food!” 

A careful blend of Indian aromatics – onions, garlic, ginger, and green chiles – plus whole and ground spices deliver traditional bold Indian flavors that you’d typically find in Indian restaurants. Achieving this isn’t that complicated, either. You just need the right ingredients!

Indulgent yet wholesome 

Can you believe that this recipe packs in a whopping 10 ounces (300g) of spinach?! All of that spinach loads this dish with properties that can boost your eye health, reduce your risk of cancer (specifically prostate and breast cancer), give you healthy skin, and much more.

But aloo saag (or saag aloo, either is fine!) is so delicious and indulgent that you won’t even notice you’re eating something good for you. The ratio of indulgent creamy spiced potatoes with a buttery mouthfeel to nutrient-rich and silky spinach is simply perfect.

close up photo of saag aloo in saucepan with cilantro leaves and a spoon.

Ingredient notes 

ingredients for Indian dish saag aloo laid out in bowls and labeled.

Potatoes 

The star of the dish! I like making this spinach potato curry with Yukon Gold potatoes because they’re a little waxy and a little starchy, which gives them a creamy interior when roasted.

Slicing them into medium-sized pieces (slightly less than 1” or 2.5 cm in size) helps them cook quickly and makes them the perfect bite size.

Russet potatoes will also work if that’s all you can find. They’ll just be a little softer and a bit fluffier rather than creamy.

Baby spinach

Technically, you can make saag aloo with any type of leafy green you like, not just baby spinach. However, it’s my leafy green of choice because it requires no prep except for a quick chop (which you can do while the onions cook). 

More mature spinach leaves require you to cut off their thick stems. Plus, they take longer to cook, and sometimes have a bitter flavor that comes through in this quick cooking process.

Whole spices 

The masala (the saucy blend of aromatics and spices) is essential to saag aloo (and a ton of other Indian recipes, really). It begins with whole cumin seeds and mustard seeds to build a powerful layer of flavor. Plus, the bouncy texture of the mustard seeds is delightful with the tender potatoes and spinach. 

Classic Indian aromatics 

This dish calls for some classic Indian aromatics, like onions, ginger, garlic, and green chiles. They start off the masala with a super flavorful baseline, while tomatoes add the necessary tang and very subtle sweetness. 

Substitute: I prefer to make this with fresh tomatoes but if they’re out of season, use an equivalent amount (8 oz / 230g) of canned diced or crushed tomatoes. 

Ground spices 

Most versions of saag aloo contain turmeric, coriander, and red chili powder, while some also contain two spices you might not be as familiar with: amchur powder and asafoetida (the latter is known as “hing” in Hindi). 

Amchur is a refreshingly tangy powder made from dried, unripe mangoes. Asafoetida is more funky (it smells strong!) and lends a quintessentially Indian flavor that is hard to describe in words (it’s actually a resin rather than a classic spice).

Where to buy: I recommend taking a trip to your local Indian market to pick up amchur, asafoetida, and other ingredients for this recipe.

Or, if you’re due for a spice restock, my favorite spice brand, Burlap & Barrel, sells a fantastic amchur powder grown on a family farm in the most famous mango-growing region of India; this is also a brand I like. For asafetida, this is the one my mom has used for years (affiliate links). 

Substitutions: No amchur? Add more lime or lemon juice at the end for tang. No asafoetida? Just omit it.

Allergic to gluten? Most varieties of asafoetida contain small amounts of gluten, so omit if you’re allergic. If you don’t want to leave it out, the brand Pure Indian Foods has a GF option or you can order GF asafoetida online (affiliate link). 

Finishing spices 

I like to finish this dish with two more spices: garam masala and fenugreek leaves, AKA kasoori methi. Fenugreek leaves are quite special here, as they add a bold, savory, pungent flavor that can’t be replicated with anything else. 

I’ve listed fenugreek leaves as optional, but if you visit an Indian grocery store, I’d consider it a must-buy! Just like in my Tofu Tikka Masala and Malai Kofta, it adds that je ne sais quoi flavor you’d typically find in Indian restaurant dishes.

Step-by-step instructions

Lay the scrubbed and chopped potatoes on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle them with oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread them into a single layer.

Roast the potatoes until they’re browned in spots and tender but not super soft (without flipping). 

Meanwhile, make the masala by heating the oil in a large, deep sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. 

Once shimmering, add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Shake the pan and stir frequently. Once the seeds start to pop, add the asafetida (optional); stir constantly for 10 seconds (it will smell funky!). 

Reduce the heat and add the onions. Cook until golden brown and soft, deglazing the pan with a splash of water as needed to prevent the aromatics from sticking.

Now add the garlic, ginger, serrano pepper, and tomato paste to the pan with the onions/aromatics.

Cook for 1 to 2 minutes before stirring in the turmeric, coriander, amchur, chile powder, and black pepper.

Add the tomatoes and use the juices to deglaze the pan. Cook until the tomatoes have fully softened and the masala is turning into a thick, saucy texture. Crush in the fenugreek leaves with your hands and toss to coat. 

Transfer the roasted potatoes to the pot with the masala. Toss to coat and stir frequently to prevent sticking.

Turn up the heat and add some of the spinach to the pan. Cook the spinach until it wilts a bit, then add another batch. Repeat until all of the spinach is tender.

Take the saag aloo off of the heat and stir in the garam masala, lemon juice, and cilantro. Season to taste with salt as needed. Enjoy!

Tips for making this recipe

Don’t shortcut the spices

The whole and ground spices make this dish, so I don’t recommend making too many shortcuts. If you have a local Indian grocery store, make a trip there, and you’ll find all of the spices you need to achieve the restaurant-worthy flavors. 

Bonus: The spices at Indian grocers are SO much more affordable than at standard grocery stores! And usually you’ll find an Indian shop owner who’ll be more than happy to help you find what you need. 

Streamline with multitasking 

As the potatoes roast, chop the onions, tomatoes, and other aromatics. While you wait for the onions to cook, chop the baby spinach. 

These multitasking strategies save you time and help you put this amazing dish together much quicker.

Chop finely and evenly

The more finely you dice the onions, the quicker they’ll soften and turn golden. The same goes for the tomatoes – once they’re finely chopped, the tomatoes will quickly soften and melt into the masala, yielding a saucy and rich texture without leaving any distinct tomato pieces behind.

Don’t skimp on the oil

How do you get yourself to eat a mountain of spinach without even realizing it? You add a little bit of richness!

In this recipe that comes in the form of oil. It not only helps to release all of the fat-soluble flavors in the spices, it also gives the finish dish a slightly saucy, silky texture. I promise it will make you feel like you’re eating serious comfort food and not a mountain of spinach!

Give the ingredients room to breath

Make the masala in a deep sauté pan or Dutch oven. A large pot like this leaves plenty of room to cook all ten ounces of spinach in no time. 

Make sure the potatoes are spread in a single layer on the baking sheet, too. Overlapping will cause them to steam rather than crisp and become golden.

bowl of saag aloo with naan and lime wedges on a dark green table.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I buy the spices needed for this recipe?

All of the spices you need should be easy to find at your local Indian grocery store. But if you don’t have one, you can order them online. 

I have had good results using Rani brand spices, which are available on Amazon. And as I’ve mentioned many times, my favorite sustainable spice brand, Burlap and Barrel, sells most of the spices you need. 

What potatoes can I use besides Yukon gold potatoes?

If you live in the U.S., you can use Russet potatoes; they’ll just be a little softer and a bit fluffier rather than creamy. If you live in the U.K., I’ve been told that Maris Piper potatoes are pretty similar to Yukon golds.

Can I use frozen spinach instead of fresh?

I prefer the texture of fresh baby spinach, but you can use frozen chopped spinach in a pinch.

Since frozen spinach is more tightly packed than fresh, you’ll need less than the 10 ounces/285g (probably closer to 6 or 7 ounces ~150 to 200g of frozen spinach). You’ll also want to cook it longer so the excess water can evaporate. 

How do you serve saag aloo?

You can serve saag aloo both as a side dish with bigger entrees, like Chickpea Curry, Red Lentil Curry, or Dal Makhani, or as a main dish with flatbread and rice. 

Dry versions of saag aloo (as opposed to curried versions) are best scooped up with roti, chapati, or another Indian flatbread like my vegan naan. That said, I also love serving saag aloo with basmati rice and a scoop of vegan coconut yogurt or raita.

If you prefer to serve with bread, store-bought pita is great in a pinch. I like to elevate the bread by charring it over an open gas flame, then brushing it with a little vegan butter or oil. 

Are you looking for the protein? You don’t typically see saag aloo or aloo gobi served with a protein because most vegetarian Indian families already eat a protein-rich diet full of lentils, beans, and split peas.

But if you really need some protein here, my favorite (very untraditional) option is to mix the potatoes and greens with baked or fried tofu (there’s enough sauciness in the dish to coat the tofu as well). In a pinch, I’ve also used store-bought pre-baked tofu and that worked fine too (as long as it’s mildly flavored).

Another way to serve this is with protein-rich chickpeas. Drain and rinse two cans of chickpeas, toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then lay them on a sheet pan. Roast them in the oven at the same time as the potatoes until they’re golden brown and crunchy in spots.

How should I store and reheat this dish? 

Keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. To reheat, fry the leftovers in a frying pan until the potatoes are warmed through and somewhat crispy again. 

bowl of saag aloo with rice and lime wedges on a table.

More classic Indian recipes

Saag Aloo

5 from 21 votes
Crispy roasted potatoes, leafy greens, and a divine mix of Indian spices and aromatics get together in this elevated Saag Aloo recipe. It’s an indulgent and nourishing Indian side dish or main that will warm you from head to toe.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Diet Vegan, Vegetarian
Serving size: 4 as a side, 2 as a main

Ingredients

Potatoes (Aloo)

  • 1 ½ pounds (680g) Yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 ½ to 4 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil of choice, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Masala

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black or brown mustard seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafetida (AKA hing) (optional, see Note 2)
  • 1 medium-large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated or minced
  • ½ of a serrano pepper, finely chopped (see Note 3)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon amchur (optional, see Note 2)
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder or mild Indian chili powder (see Note 2)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • ½ pound (225g) Roma or plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to season
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek leaves (optional, see Note 4)
  • 10 ounces (285g) baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ to 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 big handful of cilantro (~12g), chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Scrub the potatoes (I don’t peel). Slice into 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks.
  • Transfer potatoes to a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Drizzle with oil (1 to 1 ½ tablespoons) and season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste. Spread out in a single layer (if they overlap on top of each other, use two sheet pans).
  • Roast for 20 to 25 minutes without flipping, or until browned in spots and tender but not super soft.
  • Meanwhile, make the masala. Keep a small bowl of water near the stove. Grab a flat-ended spatula.
  • Heat a large, deep sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the remaining 2 ½ TBSP oil. Once shimmering, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds; shake the pan back and forth or stir frequently. Once they start popping (30 to 60 seconds), add the asafetida if using, and stir constantly for 10 seconds (it will smell funky!).
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions. Season with a pinch of salt, and cook until golden browned and softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water as needed to deglaze.
    a. While the onions cook, chop the baby spinach.
  • To the onions, add the garlic, ginger, green chile, and tomato paste. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring very frequently. Add the turmeric, coriander, amchur if using, chile powder, and several cracks of pepper. Cook, stirring almost constantly, for 30 seconds. If the mixture sticks, add a splash of water to deglaze.
  • Add in the tomatoes and 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, using the tomato juices to deglaze the pan and scrape up the browned bits. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes have fully softened and it’s turning into a thick, saucy texture. Crush in the fenugreek leaves with your hands and toss to coat.
  • Add the roasted potatoes to the masala and toss to coat for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and add in about ¼ of the baby spinach. Cook the spinach, as if you’re stir frying it. Once it wilts a bit and you have more space, add another batch of spinach and repeat. Cook briefly until just tender and wilted.
  • Take off the heat, and stir in the garam masala, lemon juice, and cilantro. Season to taste with salt.

Notes

1. Multitasking: While the potatoes roast, chop the onion, tomatoes, ginger/garlic/chile pepper, and prep the spices. While the onions cook, chop the spinach. This multitasking is factored into the prep and cook time.
2. Asafoetida (aka “hing”) has a musky smell and adds a quintessential Indian flavor; omit if you don’t have it. It typically contains small amounts of gluten, so omit if GF.
If you don’t amchur, add more lemon juice at finishing.
If you don’t have a mild red chile powder, sub with ¾ tsp paprika + ¼ tsp cayenne. All spices are sold at Indian grocers or online.
3. ½ serrano pepper with the membranes/seeds intact will yield a moderate heat. For spicy!, use 1 full pepper. For mild heat, omit entirely. 
4. Fenugreek leaves are also sold as kasuri methi. They add a very unique flavor and have no substitute. You can find them at Indian grocers or online. If you don’t have it, you may want to add more garam masala to taste

Calories: 299kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 669mg | Potassium: 1395mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 7278IU | Vitamin C: 67mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 5mg

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38 comments on Saag Aloo

  1. NRP

    5 stars
    I’ve made this a few times and keep coming back because it’s so good. I add a can of chickpeas before the tomatoes so it can be a main dish. I also used a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes.

  2. Sarah

    This was delicious! I like my saag aloo dishes on the saucier side, and was pleasantly surprised at how silky this dish was while still letting the crispy texture of the potatoes shine through. I also added crispy chickpea tofu, made using this site’s recipe but subbing in chickpea tofu (my fave!). The asafetida and amchur really made it. Thank you for another delicious dinner dish!

  3. Tina

    5 stars
    OMG! This dish is amazing! As an Indian who loves authentic Indian food, this dish is definitely one of our top favourites! Thank you for creating magic Nisha! We can’t stop eating the whole pot!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hey Tina! Wow, I can feel your enthusiasm about this recipe through the screen! Love it! Thanks for the amazing review :)

  4. Kim

    5 stars
    Delicious! I halved the recipe but added the original recipe amount of tomatoes (I didn’t want leftover canned diced tomato so I used the whole 14oz can, I like these dishes saucy anyways), didn’t have amchur added 1/4tsp of cayenne in place of serrano pepper and kashmiri chili powder. The results were so so good! Very easy and I’m excited to add this into my dinner rotation.
    I ate it straight up while my husband had it with mini naan from the grocery store. We both thoroughly enjoyed!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Kim! Lovely to hear the recipe was a success!

  5. Kate

    5 stars
    Outstanding – so delicious, and really easy to make, thank you for another fantastic recipe!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Kate! It makes us happy to know that you enjoyed the recipe.

  6. Gina

    5 stars
    Yummy!! This was delicious! Thank you for the recipe Nisha!,

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Gina!

  7. Jen

    5 stars
    I can’t tell you how delicious this is! No words! Just made this for dinner following exactly except for the addition of roasted cauliflower along with the potatoes. I mean, stunningly flavorful. Thanks so much for sharing this delicious recipe!!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome to hear, Jen. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  8. Anaïs

    5 stars
    Thank tou Nisha for this beautiful recipe that we tried last night with my 10 years old son!
    I did not have the optional spices (Asafoetida and Fenugreek). I also had to replace the mustard seeds with old-fashionned mustard. I also sub the mild chile powder with paprika and cayenne as proposed.
    The result was really delicious and well balanced!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so happy that the saag aloo turned out well for you, Anaïs. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for trying out the recipe!

  9. Sina

    5 stars
    So good! The aromatics, the spices, the layering of flavors. Love the roasted potatoes in this dish.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Sina, thank you so much for your kind review!

  10. Troy

    5 stars
    Thank you so much. I had all the spices except for a couple optional ones. So very delicious!!!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re over the moon to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Troy. Thanks for your kind words!

  11. Phil Hughes

    Sounds great — now on my list. One error: 1.3cm is 1/2 inch, not 1 inch. Looking at the photo I am guessing 1/2 inch is correct.

    1. Maxwell @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Great catch, Phil!

      We’ve updated the post. The potato pieces are slightly less than 1-inch in size.

  12. Karen Woodfield

    5 stars
    Another exceptional recipe. Well worth the effort,

    Would love to see more ideas about putting dishes together to create meals. Love to learn about pickles and chutney too.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the feedback, Karen! We’re thrilled you loved the Saag Aloo :)

  13. Anna

    5 stars
    Another amazing recipe, thank you Nisha! Absolutely packed with great flavours, definitely adding it to my weekly rotation :)

    Just a note for those in the UK/Europe: I used Maris Piper potatoes as an alternative, they are very similar to Yukon Gold and can be bought in most supermarkets.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We appreciate your feedback and support, Anna. Thank you for leaving a review!

  14. Esther de Bell

    5 stars
    Tasty, even without the specialty ingredients

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re happy to hear it, Esther! :)

  15. Jazmine Greenberg

    5 stars
    Just finished making it and am eating it right now. It’s so good. I used a mix of yukon gold and russet potatoes. The mustard seeds add great flavor and I just know I’m going to have to make this again. Very satisfied. Thank you so much!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hey Jazmine! Wow, I can feel your enthusiasm about this recipe through the screen! Love it!

  16. Greg

    5 stars
    I made this for my elderly aunt, we both loved it! Lots of flavor,

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so awesome to hear, Greg! Thanks for sharing :)

  17. Ajit

    5 stars
    We made aloo Saag for dinner with Naan. This recipe is so delicious!! Finally found the Perfect recipe

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Aw, it’s so awesome to hear you are such fans of the recipe! :)

  18. Moon

    Hello, Yukon Gold isn’t available in the UK, what potato type would be a good substitute please? Excited to try this!

    1. Nisha

      Hi Moon, I’m not familiar with the varieties of potatoes available in the UK, but here’s a description of what you Yukon gold potatoes are like so that you can find a substitute.

      They’re a thin-skinned potato with a creamy texture. They’re somewhat starchy but not floury and somewhat waxy, but not the extreme end of either starchy or waxy. We use them as an all-purpose potato that’s great for many applications, including roasting as in this recipe. Hope that helps!

    2. Karen Woodfield

      I am in UK too, I am going to use a salad potato. Charlotte variety in Sainsbury’s

  19. Emily

    Hi! the first asofetida link links to amchur

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Emily, that’s so weird it’s showing up that way for you because it takes me to this website!

    2. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Emily! So weird, because I see that it links to this page?

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