lamb saag – indian restaurant style

If you’ve never had lamb saag, it’s time to fix that. It’s is a nicely spiced lamb curry with spinach, green chilies and cilantro. Just really tasty.

I love lamb curries. I like chicken curries too but a good lamb curry is hard to beat. Something about the richness of the lamb against the spices. It all comes together beautifully. And lamb saag delivers.

Some people think they don’t like lamb. I guess some really don’t like it but my guess is most haven’t experienced how good lamb can be.

Lamb saag is a good place to start. A gateway dish. Try it before you knock it. This might just do it for you.

Or not. Lamb saag is great but it’s not going to make you do a complete 180. But if you are a real lamb hater why are you reading this anyway?

Close-up of lamb saag in a serving dish.

Lamb saag done restaurant style is different

Indian restaurant style curry is different from homestyle. It’s what you get when you go out for a curry. Homestyle is what’s all over the internet. What people make for dinner.

It’s kind of the same but completely different. That’s why what you cook winds up tasting different from what you get in a restaurant.

That unctuous sauce. That crazy gravy that’s good on its own. With a piece of naan bread dipped in it. That’s what this is about.

Restaurants don’t have big pots of every curry they serve just sitting around. They cook to order. And to cook for order they need to do it differently. That’s what this is about.

I’ve said this before. There are lots of Indian restaurant recipes on this blog. Learn how to do it once and you can make anything.

Any time you want. What’s better than that?

Restaurant style lamb saag with rice from above.

Do your prep when you cook Indian restaurant style

I cannot stress this enough. Do your prep. Before you get started. Make your curry base and have some heated and ready to go. Measure out your ingredients. Make sure the lamb is cooked.

Have everything ready. Indian restaurant style cooking goes fast. Maybe 10 minutes from start to finish. Seriously. You are cooking short order here.

And please put on some old clothes. It’s messy cooking. Turmeric stains are impossible to get out. You will not be happy about it if you don’t. Indian restaurant line cooks don’t wear nice clothes. There’s a reason.

If you haven’t read the guide to Indian restaurant technique yet, do it now. It has pictures to help you understand the recipe and cooking method.

There’s also a guide to Indian ingredients in that post. That should help take the mystery out of this.

Lamb saag. Try it. You’ll like it. Maybe you’ll even love it like I do.

Lamb saag in a copper bowl.
Lamb saag with rice on a plate.
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4.95 from 18 votes

lamb saag

Make lamb saag just like they do in restaurants.
Course Main
Cuisine Indian
Keyword lamb saag
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Pre-cooking the lamb 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 402kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


pre-cook the lamb

  • 12 oz boneless lamb stew
  • 2 tsp curry powder or Indian restaurant spice mix
  • 1 tsp salt
  • chicken stock enough to fully submerge the lamb

The spice mix

  • 2 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix – recipe link below
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

lamb saag

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp onion – finely diced
  • 2 tbsp green chili – seeded and finely diced
  • 3 tbsp cilantro leaves and stems – finely diced
  • 4 oz frozen spinach – the finely diced stuff
  • 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste – recipe link below
  • 15 oz curry base – recipe link below
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato paste – plus enough water to get to the consistency of passata
  • 1/6 lemon – juiced
  • all of the spice mix
  • the pre-cooked lamb


The spice mix

  • Combine all the spice mix ingredients. Set aside.

Pre-cook the lamb

  • Add the lamb, curry powder and salt to a small pot. Cover with chicken stock and bring to a simmer. 
  • Cook until the lamb is tender. This takes as long as it takes. Once you can insert a fork into the lamb without resistance it’s ready.
  • Drain the lamb and set aside. If you want, keep the stock. It makes a great addition to any home style lamb curry.

The lamb saag

  • Be ready. Have your curry base simmering on the stove. Make your spice mix. Chop all the ingredients and have them at the ready. This is going to go very fast. You don’t have time to mess around.
  • Thaw the spinach. Drain it well.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the oil. When it shimmers add the onion and green chilies. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onions just start to brown on the edges. This takes 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic ginger paste and cook until it stops sputtering, about 1 minute.
  • Lower the heat to medium low. Add the spice mix. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30-45 seconds. You want to bloom the spices in the oil. You don’t want to burn it. If you burn the spices, start again. There’s no fixing it.
  • Add the diluted tomato paste and cilantro. Stir to combine and cook for about a minute.
  • Turn the heat up to medium high. Add 3 oz of the curry base. Stir to combine and cook until it it starts to crater. Little holes will appear. See the guide to Indian curries to understand what this means if you aren’t sure.
  • Add another 6 oz of curry base. Stir to combine and cook until it craters.
  • Now add the remaining curry base. Cook until it craters and reduce the heat to low. Add the lamb and spinach and stir to mix. Simmer for about 5 minutes. If the curry gets too dry add a bit more curry base.
  • Add the fresh lemon juice. Stir to combine. Serve. Enjoy!


The recipe for indian restaurant spice mix is here
The recipe for garlic ginger paste is here.
The recipe for curry base is here.
If you haven’t read about Indian restaurant technique yet, do that before you start cooking.
Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.
If you are making multiple curries, have your curry base warming in a pot on the stove. If you are just making one, microwave it to warm it up right before you start cooking.


Serving: 2g | Calories: 402kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 1561mg | Potassium: 731mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 7110IU | Vitamin C: 11.3mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 4.2mg
Indian restaurant lamb saag curry - Indian lamb and spinach curry

40 thoughts on “lamb saag – indian restaurant style”

    • It isn’t perfect as I do play with spicing as well when I modify restaurant style to hotel style but if you leave out the tomato paste and follow hotel and not restaurant technique it will work.

  1. 5 stars
    Am I right in saying you’re supposed to use the full spice mix for this recipe? I’m wanting to double this, which means id need 8 tablespoons coriander, 8 of turmeric, 6 of paprika etc, is that right? It just seems like a LOT as all other recipes I’m reading, use less than a quarter of that, maybe a couple teaspoons of each?

    • The spice mix called for in this recipe is two teaspoons of restaurant spice mix, 1 tsp of Kashmiri chili powder etc. I think the full spice mix you are referring to is the master restaurant spice mix which makes enough for many curries. You are right. Using a full batch of Indian restaurant spice mix would be waaayyy too much.

      There is a slider in the recipe card that you can use to scale the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this several times, and it’s always so good! As good or better than from any restaurant we’ve had. It is my husband’s favorite Indian dish, and thanks to you, we rarely go out for dinner now. 😄

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Romain, I finally made it to the restaurant section; I have been meaning to for some time. Loved how it delivers a slightly different take on Indian curries compared to traditional or hotel style! Really really good. The recipe was excellent as always, but what really struck me was how much fun it was. More technique, more splatter and less time to think. I admit that I didn’t completely nail it yet (almost though) but all the more excuse to practice! Only problem is that I spotted Rogan Josh hotell style on your blog; I have to make that first!

    • It’s fun playing line cook. As long as you wear old clothes and don’t mind a little clean up you should be good to go. It goes fast but once you do it a few times it becomes second nature.

  4. 5 stars
    I have made this Saag a few times now as it comes out better than the one I used to get from my local takaway. It’s great.
    I have, however, made a couple of changes. Not to change the flavour, but to make it easier.
    Everything, apart from the meat and spices comes out of the freezer. I use the Dan Toombs Quick Base Curry Sauce from his ‘Easy’ book, as that is what I use for other things and I keep some in the freezer. I use the Hot Madras Curry Powder I can get from the supermarket instead of the Restaurant Spice Mix. I use a regular Chilli powder as I can’t easily get the Kashmiri stuff. This probably makes the end reult a little hotter. I use more onion, garlic and ginger to make things easier with keeping the ingredients in the freezer – it’s not easy to scoop 2 tablespoons out of a bag of frozen diced onion, so I just throw a good handful in!
    Apart from that, I use a bit less salt, and put the methi in at the end with the spinach, and i don’t bother with the lemon juice. I’m just not keen on the citrus tone – I don’t put it in any of my curries.
    Going to try the Madras recipe next as I still don’t have a go-to one. Hope it is as good as this Saag.

  5. Amazing Romain! This is the 2nd recipe I have made of yours and my partner would not stop talking about how much he loved it. I’m so chuffed I can make restaurant style curries at home- thanks so much for taking the time to put these up 🙂

  6. Hi Romain,

    I’m making this on Friday, but I’m using fresh Spinach instead of frozen…do I need to use the same amount?

    • That should work well. Just julienne it and maybe wilt it a bit in the microwave and drain it to lessen the intensity of the spinach and prevent the dish from becoming too watery.

  7. This sounds amazing, but my family loves a really creamy saag recipe. Would you recommend adding heavy cream or Indian yogurt to this recipe?

    • I’ve never really tried either so I cannot in good conscience make a recommendation I’m afraid. Either way I would be very light on the dairy. The flavours will get muted otherwise…

    • It’s pretty hard to get the curry base to fry hard enough to get good results when you double or triple restaurant style. Maybe use a bigger pan and make it twice?

  8. This is my 4th recipe using the curry base that I made a froze a few weeks ago. I am addicted to trying all of your Indian recipes! I adore curry but always find the ones I get from Take-aways/ restaurants (locally to me anyway) give me a very unfortunate after effect.
    None of your recipes have so I am always on searching, researching and making! Until you suggested precooking the meat, I had always found my lamb a bit too tough in my home cooked versions.
    I make big batches and freeze individual portions for later… so cost effective and so tasty – not to mention the smells in my kitchen while I cook….. AMAZING!!

    • This is so wonderful to hear. I’m delighted you are making curries that you enjoy! If your house smells like an Indian restaurant when you are cooking that’s a great indicator that you are doing it right.

  9. Oh my.
    This is amazing, made it for me and my husband tonight and he honestly thought I had cheated and brought a take away. Restaurant quality were the words he used lol.
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, I will definitely be using it a lot.
    Thank you

    • There is no higher praise imaginable than this. I am absolutely delighted to hear your husband doubted:-).

      Thank you!

  10. 5 stars
    Hi Romain

    Firstly, let me say thank you so much for providing us novices with such wonderful Indian dishes to choose from, I’ve cooked quite a number of your recipes over the last few months and I am learning so much from them.

    This recipe was a knock out everyone at dinner said it was so much better than ordering one, and it was my first time of cooking it. It was truly delicious so much so that when I got up the next morning I finished the little that was left over from the night before. I have never done that before but I think I’m addicted to your recipes they really are great! Thank you Veronica

    • That is so awesome to hear. You are very welcome! I’m delighted to be part of your learning process. If your curries are now good enough for breakfast I’d say you are approaching curry master status.

  11. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe
    I live in the UK so we have good Indian restaurants.
    Slow cooking the lamb in the curry flavoured stock is a fantastic tip for tender meat.

  12. This is the best curry I have ever tasted and so easy cook. I cook this at least once a month…
    A big thank you 🙂

  13. Wow! Just wow! Living in Spain it is very difficult to find a good curry near where I live. I have been trying to replicate Indian restaurant curries for some time and have finally found an authentic recipe. Thank you so so much. Can’t wait to try out some of your other recipes. Any chance of a pilau rice recipe in the near future?

    • Glad you like it! I’ll put pilau rice on the to do list. In the mean time check out the restaurant chicken biryani recipe if you need a tasty rice fix.

  14. 5 stars
    Dear Romain,
    As a real Dutch boy (;-)) I have tried many different SAAG recipes. Yesterday I used yours. It was delicious. Everyone ate too much. Even my daughter and she are very picky.
    Thank you very much for your recipe.
    With kind regards, Ton

  15. 5 stars
    This turned out absolutely perfect and the prep tips, while a little intimidating at first read, turned out to be easier than I first thought. Lamb Saag is my favorite Indian take-out dish and this recipe is as good if not better than any that I’ve ordered from a restaurant. My children both have nut allergies so we don’t let them eat Indian from restaurants for fear of cross contamination. They loved it. Thank you!!

  16. Made this a few days ago. It is the best saag I have ever made. Id say Im comfortable with cooking real Indian food at home. The technique is new to me but WORTH IT. My spouse and I both agree that this is better than both our favorite restaurants/cooks locally. We were so happy to eat this. Thank you!

  17. 5 stars
    Thank you for all the super helpful information along with this recipe! We had this tonight as my hubs had a hard day and this is his favorite Indian food dish. It was fantastic…and I am an Indian food newbie!! He says that it turned out better than his favorite restaurant makes! Thanks again!

  18. 5 stars
    From the base sauce,spice mixture and slowly cooking the lamb, at last I am able to make such beautiful Indian cuisine. Prep is everything as you’ve kindly written about. Thanks so much!


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