saag aloo – Indian restaurant style

Saag aloo is a classic vegetarian dish. They serve it at just about every Indian restaurant around. Why not make it at home?

It’s not hard at all. If you are used to cooking in the Indian restaurant style that’s all over this blog it should be snap for you. If you are new to Indian restaurant style jump in. Once you get the hang of it you can make anything.

Saag aloo doesn’t have to be made with spinach

I know it seems that everyone makes it with spinach. I’m no different. I’ve used spinach in this saag aloo.

But saag refers to a number of leafy greens.  It can mean spinach, or collard greens or mustard greens. Fresh methi leaves count too.

The word for spinach in Hindi is palak. So this dish is technically palak aloo. But I’m calling it saag aloo. And saying you can use whatever leafy green you want. Mustard greens is next for me. Can’t wait to try that.

Saag aloo is a delicious vegetarian  spinach and potato curry.

Saag aloo in a bowl surrounded by green chilies and parathas.

Bengali style saag aloo

There’s lots of potatoes in Bengali cooking. This is a potato curry. So Bengali spicing works well. Mustard seed. Panch phoran. Potatoes. That’s a perfect match.

Panch phoran is Bengali five spice. It is a mix of cumin, brown mustard seed, fenugreek seed, nigella and fennel seed. It adds a distinct flavour to everything you add it to. I grew up on it. So I love it.

If you can’t get it don’t worry. Not the end of the world. Leaving it out just moves this saag aloo into North Indian territory. Still great. Just a bit different.

Saag aloo with parathas from the front.

Prep your potatoes

Making curries with potatoes can be tricky. Cook them too much and you get mashed potato curry. Not bad in a strange way. But probably not what you are looking for.

There’s a simple trick to help here. You parboil the potatoes with salt and turmeric. That gives them a nice colour and gets them creamy inside.

Then you fry them up in some oil and whole spices. That firms them up. They get a little skin on the outside to help them stay together. Makes them crazy tasty too. Double shot of goodness here.

Saag aloo in a bowl with spoon from above.

Indian restaurant cooking

This is a little different from homestyle Indian cooking. It goes fast. It’s not that dreamy all day braised dish you are probably used to.

So there are tricks and techniques you need to know. Don’t worry. Just read this primer on Indian restaurant cooking. Watch the video. You’ll be an expert after that.

Do your prep. Be ready with your ingredients. That’s how they do it in restaurants. Organized.

This is about as good as it gets. Vegetarian curry so good you won’t miss the meat. Saag aloo, a nice dal and rice or flat bread. That’s good living.

Or serve it up along side your favourite curry. As a vegetable dish. That works too. If you like potatoes. And spinach. And curry. Then this is a dish for you.

Saag aloo in an Indian copper bowl with spoon.
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4.80 from 35 votes

saag aloo

Potatoes, spinach and lots of spice make this saag aloo a truly delicious vegetarian meal.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Indian spinach and potato curry, palak aloo, saag aloo
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 237kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


Cook the potatoes

  • 6 oz potatoes small, waxy potatoes are best
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp panch phoran
  • 3 oz spinach cooked, chopped and drained weight
  • 1 green chili diced
  • 2 tsp garlic ginger paste
  • 2 tsp tomato paste diluted to the consistency of passata
  • 1 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix
  • 1/2 tsp kasoor methi
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice about 1/6 of a lemon
  • 12 oz curry base
  • chopped cilantro to garnish


Prep the potatoes

  • Cut the potatoes into 3/4 inch pieces. Cover with water. Add the salt and turmeric. Bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are just tender. Drain and let cool.
  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seed, mustard seed and panch phoran. When the whole spices start to crackle add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes start to turn golden. Remove the potatoes from the pan.
  • Return the pan to the heat. Add enough oil to get to two tablespoons. Stir in the green chili. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the garlic ginger paste and cook until it stops spattering. This takes under a minute. 
  • Turn the heat down to medium low. Add the Indian restaurant spice mix, kashmiri chili powder, kasoor methi and salt. Stir to combine. Cook for about 30-45 seconds. You want your spices to lose their raw flavour but don't want them to burn. Watch closely. Lift the pan away from the heat if you have to.
  • Add the diluted tomato paste and stir. Turn the heat up to medium high.
  • Add half (6 oz) of the curry base. Cook until it starts to form craters. This takes about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the curry base. Repeat. 
  • Turn the heat down to medium low. Add the potatoes, drained spinach and lemon juice. Simmer for 4-5 minutes. Serve.


Serving: 2servings | Calories: 237kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2052mg | Potassium: 753mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 4080IU | Vitamin C: 26.6mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 5.3mg

29 thoughts on “saag aloo – Indian restaurant style”

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve been ordering this for 30 years from takeaways and this is as good. I omitted the chilli. The Panch Phoran was a revelation if you bloom it in oil. I wouldn’t change a thing. Top notch.

    • If you have a big enough pan you can probably go double. There’s a slider to help with that in the recipe. More than double and you can’t really get enough of the hard frying that gives restaurant style it’s flavour so you’re really better off making it twice.

    • I haven’t frozen it but I hear people freeze curries all the time and it seems to work.

      Hope your dinner party is a huge success!

  2. Will this keep well if made a day or 2 in advance? I’m doing a curry eve for 10 and want to get ahead with some dishes.
    Curry base is in the freezer ready to go!

  3. Changed this a wee bit , to what I have , but overdid spinach and potatoes , added loads of chilli because I like it , it was still delicious , but next tim will probably just put spinach without cooking it first , I just put it boiling water for 30 secs , but that was 20 secs too long

    • I find the spinach flavour a bit strong if I put it in raw but if you like a pronounced spinach flavour that could work for you.

  4. 5 stars
    Made this tonight – SO good! It is hands-down the best Indian food recipe I’ve ever made at home. I really loved the spice mix and curry base recipes that were part of this. Took a lot of time to prepare, but was worth it, and now I have curry base and spice mix for future recipes. Thanks for sharing this!

    • My pleasure. So glad you enjoyed it. You are absolutely right. It takes some doing to get set up but once you do it you can whip up curries in no time!

  5. 5 stars
    First of all, I want say I’ve never commented on a recipe in my entire life. Secondly, this is the first time I’ve made a curry like this, with the curry base and homemade garlic & ginger paste and everything. I spent hours making this entirely from scratch this evening and it was the best curry I’ve ever made. I didn’t have all of the spices i needed but it was still incredible – tasted exactly like restaurant style curry here in the UK. I’m never going back to another curry recipe. Thank you so much!

    • Wow. I’m honoured and so happy you enjoyed the fruits of your labours! Now you have everything prepped any of the recipes labeled Restaurant Style on glebekitchen use the curry base so you have lots of choices. If you want vegetarian options you can substitute paneer or chickpeas for the protein in equal amounts. I do that all the time – especially with chickpeas.

  6. 5 stars
    Made this as a side dish and couldn’t believe how yummy it was. The family said it was the best they’d had. I now have a freezer full of curry base and a cupboard full of spices ready to make my way through all your recipes. Thank you

  7. 5 stars
    I made this last week and am a novice in Indian cookery. It was easy to follow the recipe, even making the curry base wasn’t too arduous (you don’t have to finely chop the onions, something that always makes me cry) and it was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. The usual restaurant sag aloo doesn’t match it for flavour. I’m now planning to serve it to friends, along with some of your other recipes, in a socially-distanced dinner in the garden next Friday. Thank you Romain.

    • So great to hear. Now you have the curry base made there is no stopping you! One trick I like, if you are making Indian with a lot of chopped onions, is to use a food processor. No tears. Don’t need it for curry base but if you decide to try hotel style gravy next it’s worth considering.

      Good luck with your socially-distanced dinner party!

  8. started to follow some of your Indian recipes recently during lock down and i have to say they are superb.. the Saag is absolutely awesome – way better than the local restaurants.. tried the Chicken Karachi, Garlic Chillie Chicken and the Lamb Bhuna … all resulted in tremendous outcomes that the family loved. so many thanks !! 🙂 Naan recipe next – any good ones?

    • Great to hear. Glad it’s working out for you. I’m always delighted to hear when people make better food than they can buy!

      On the naan recipe – I am someday going to get around to doing naan, chapatis (because chapatis are my favourite) and parathas. Right now my hands are full with the new hotel style curry technique though.

  9. 5 stars
    Saag aloo is one of my favourite dishes and this is THE BEST I ever tasted!! I used yellow mustard seed. Is that correct?

4.80 from 35 votes (26 ratings without comment)

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