Vegetarian Dish

Indian-Spiced Spinach (Saag)

A spicy spinach dish is a vegetarian recipe that you could make in the comfort of your own home. The recipe would only require a few ingredients, and you can cook it in under 30 minutes.
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Layered with flavour, but simple to prepare, this Indian-inspired spinach dish comes together in about 30 minutes. This is a versatile dish that can be served as a main or a side. You can make it vegan or vegetarian or add chicken to it. If you are vegetarian or omnivore, you can also fortify it with paneer, which is fresh Indian cheese made from whole milk. However you choose make it, Saag pairs perfectly with something starchy such as rice or naan bread.

TL;DR Summary of Making Spicy Indian Spinach (Saag)

Graphic that shows the 5 steps for making Indian-Spiced Spinach (Saag). The five steps are: 1) Cook spinach and set aside. 2) Fry onions, ginger, and garlic 3) Add spices & fry for 15 minutes, adding water as needed. 4) Add spinach & yogurt and heat through 5) Blend until desired consistency.

The Ingredients

Topdown view of ingredients in Indian-Spiced Spinach (Saag). From top right: slices of white onion, bowl with frozen blocks of spinach, oil, garlic, a white bowl containing spices, a slice of ginger, and yogurt.

This Indian-Spiced Spinach starts with frozen spinach. You could also use fresh spinach if you like, you’ll just need to steam and drain it. You’ll need about 10 cups of fresh spinach.

This spinach is made oh-so-flavourful with a full-on bouquet of aromatics, starting with onion, ginger, and garlic. The dry spices are coriander, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes for a bit of heat. You can leave out the pepper flakes if you like spice but not heat. Finally, you need a little bit of neutral oil for frying and your choice of plain yogurt for finishing the dish.

Variations

You can vary this recipe by adding paneer, which is a fresh Indian cheese made with whole milk. You can purchase store-bought paneer or make your own. Most large grocery stores or Indian groceries will carry paneer.

Although it’s not traditional, you can also stir in cooked cubed chicken.

A top-down, close up view of Indian-Spiced Spinach (also known as Saag). The Saag is in a black bowl, and it has a large dollop of yogurt as garnish, topped with red pepper flakes.
Indian-Spiced Spinach (Saag)

Making Indian-Spiced Spinach: The Process

This dish starts with frozen spinach. Cook the spinach according to the package instructions, then drain and then set aside.

Graphic depicts the inside of a greeting card, with an image of hand scrolling on the left and text on the right-hand side of the interior of the card. Text reads: Psst! Prefer pictures over text? Scroll down for a visual guide.

Next, add the oil to the frying pan and fry the onions, ginger, and garlic for about 4-5 minutes until starting to brown slightly. Add in all of the dry spices and continue frying for about 15 more minutes. You’ll need to stir this every few minutes. The mixture will get dryer as you fry it. Add a tablespoon of water whenever you need to, to prevent the mixture from burning or sticking to the pan. After you’ve finished cooking the spice mix, stir in the spinach and yogurt and cook until heated through. Almost done! The last step is to blend the spinach. You can blend it right in the pot using a hand blender (immersion blender) or transfer it to a blender.

If you want to make either of the variations – with paneer or with chicken, you just add these in at the end and heat through.

A graphic titled "Making Indian-Spiced Spinach (Saag): A Visual Guide. Displays the text "Cook Spinach and set aside", next to an image of cooked spinach. Displays photograph of onions, ginger, and garlic in a frying pan, with text: Fry onions, ginger, and garlic. An image of the frying pan with a heap of dry spices on top of the previous ingredients. Text reads: Add spices and fry for 15 familycuisine.netlays photograph of yogurt and spinach on top of other ingredients in frying pan. Text reads: Add spinach and yogurt and heat through. Final image shows an immersion blender in the spinach. Text reads: Blend until desired consistency.

Once you’ve blended your spinach give it a taste and see if it needs salt. Adding salt enhances all flavours, so it’s always a good place to start when you’re seasoning food.

A top-down view of Indian-Spiced Spinach (also known as Saag). The Saag is in a black bowl, and it has a large dollop of yogurt as garnish, topped with red pepper flakes. The bowl is against a bright pink background. There is also a bright pink bowl with brown rice, and a black dish with garlic naan.
Indian-Spiced Spinach (Saag)

Adapted From

This recipe was adapted from Aarti Sequeira’s Paneer: Spinach with Indian Cheese recipe.

Making this for Mixed Diets?

This Indian-Spiced Spinach is super easy to make vegan or vegetarian, or even both. If you’re making both versions, the process and ingredients are identical until the very end, where you add the yogurt and heat through. You can also simplify the cooking by omitting the yogurt and allowing dinners to add their own.

If you are making one of the variations, with paneer or with chicken, you also add those ingredients at the end and just heat through.

Other Vegetable Dishes

  • Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Ginger Brown Butter (Vegan or Vegetarian)
  • Potato Salad for Pickle Lovers (Vegan or Vegetarian)
  • Zucchini and Green Pea Fritters (Vegan or Vegetarian)
  • Vegan Green Bean Casserole
  • Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower (Vegan)
  • Sweet and Spicy Pearl Onions (Vegan or Vegetarian)

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