International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Saag

Saag at an Indian market

(Indian spiced spinach)

Image Creative Commons by rizwanoola

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Saag, or palak, dishes are spiced purees of spinach or other greens common in northern India. They often contain additional ingredients such as potatoes, fresh cheese, chicken or chickpeas to make a more substantial dish.

Saag makes a tasty and nourishing meal when paired with chapati or naan.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Oil or ghee -- 2 tablespoons
  • Onion, chopped -- 1
  • Garlic, minced -- 6 cloves
  • Gingerroot, minced -- 1 tablespoon
  • Coriander, ground -- 2 teaspoons
  • Turmeric -- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Cayenne pepper (optional) -- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon
  • Spinach, chopped -- 1 pound
  • Water -- 1 cup
  • Salt -- 1 teaspoon
  • Yogurt -- 1 cup
  • Cream (optional) -- 1/4 cup

Method

  1. Heat the oil or ghee in a large pot or saucepan over medium flame. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the spinach, water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, allow to cool a bit. Then use a blender or food processor to puree in batches.
  4. Return the puree to the pot. Add a little water if necessary and simmer another 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in yogurt and return to brief simmer and immediately remove from heat. Stir in the optional cream, adjust seasoning and serve.

Saag Variations

  • Saag, or Palak, Paneer (Spinach with fresh cheese): Add 1/2 pound of paneer, cut into cubes, after pureeing the spinach. You may substitute tofu for the paneer if you can't find paneer. Tofu is not an Indian ingredient, but it has a similar texture and flavor.
  • Jhinga Saag (Spinach with shrimp): Add 1/2 pound peeled and deveined shrimp after pureeing the spinach. Simmer until the shrimp is just cooked through, 3-4 minutes.
  • Chana Saag (Spinach with chickpeas): Add 1/2 pound cooked chickpeas after pureeing the spinach.
  • Saag Murgh (Spinach with chicken): Add 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes, after pureeing the spinach. Simmer just until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Saag Aloo (Spinach with potatoes): Add 1/2 pound cooked, cubed potatoes after pureeing the spinach.
  • You may use frozen or fresh spinach. Try substituting mustard or other greens.
  • A squeeze of lemon added at the end will brighten the flavor of this dish.

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