Cooking with Alison

The Best Saag / Palak Recipe (Indian Creamy Spinach Side Dish)

In Indian on January 5, 2012 at am

Saag and palak are very popular Indian side dishes.  Saag is a combination of greens such as spinach, mustard greens, and/or fenugreek leaves and palak is simply spinach.  Some restaurants make these dishes thick and creamy whereas others make them thinner in consistency and healthier.  The recipe I’ve shared below is for a quick and easy, thick and creamy saag or palak.  I tried many different variations before I got this recipe just right.  For example, I compared the textures of boiled spinach vs pan-cooked spinach, and food processor shredded spinach vs chopped spinach vs whole spinach leaves.  I also compared the creaminess of using whipping cream vs yogurt vs whipping cream plus yogurt.  I’m glad I didn’t give up, because I’ve made this for friends and family and everyone has loved it.  (See here for tips on how to get the most flavour out of your Indian spices.)


Saag or Palak Recipe

makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound (454 g) of fresh spinach leaves, washed, dried, bunched up together and sliced thinly

Optional:  2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)

3 tablespoons ghee (recipe here) or vegetable oil

1/2 small onion, peeled and chopped into chunks

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger (Note:  I use a Microplane grater)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

3/4 cup whipping cream

3 tablespoons flour

salt to taste (I use several pinches of salt)

Optional:  1 fresh small tomato, sliced or cut into chunks  (Note:  The acidity of the fresh tomatoes adds a lovely compliment to the otherwise rich and heavy spinach.)

In the food processor, puree the onion, garlic and ginger and set aside (or you could finely dice the onion and finely mince the garlic).  Whisk together the flour and whipping cream until well combined and set aside at room temperature.  Melt the ghee over medium low heat in a deep skillet.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until softened, stirring frequently for 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the cumin, coriander, and chilli powder and cook, stirring frequently for 30 seconds.  Add the thinly sliced spinach, fenugreek leaves and salt, and cook over medium low heat until soft and most of the excess liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 8 minutes.  If the spinach starts to get dry, add a little bit of water.  Add the cream and flour and give it a few stirs until the spinach dish is mixed thoroughly with the cream and until it has thickened to your preferred consistency.  Keep in mind that it will continue to thicken as it cools.  If it is too thick, stir in a bit of water at a time.  Optional:  Add a few tomato slices on top as garnish or mix in a few tomato chunks.  Serve hot with rice or bread (naan, chapati or roti).

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  1. yo you can actually buy paneer in TO cause my indian friends here go specifically to TO to get the paneer and I know this cause its my FAVOURITE inidan dish!

  2. I have to make that one too, seems so good. Would frozen spinach do? Anything to replace the fenugreek leaves?
    Sorry i live in a very small northern town. 🙂

    • If you can’t find fenugreek leaves, I would just leave it out. It will still taste great. Frozen spinach would probably work, but wouldn’t be as good. Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. This is not how you make saag at all… I would know. I’m punjabi. There is absolutely no cream used in authentic saag.

    This is how authentic saag is made… Start with spinach, broccoli, kale, and boil together for a few hours.
    Next mince ginger, garlic and onions and fry them in a little bit of vegetable oil. Add salt and a bit of black pepper. Take a handful of corn flour and put it in the mixture of boiled greens while they are hot. Next take the greens and grind them in a food processor. One they are processed add the mixture to the onion, ginger, garlic fry… And then set it to boil again. If it needs more salt, add more to taste. That for you ladies and gentleman is how saag is made in villages and homes all over Punjab. AUTHENTIC…. Not this Americanized version which is just unhealthy….

    • Hi Amy,

      Thank you so much for sharing your recipe for punjabi style saag. I tried a recipe very similar to yours once, but I personally prefer a heartier texture of spinach. So my intention was simply to share my favourite way of making this dish. I suspect that people from different regions make this dish using slightly different ingredients and methods. I really appreciate you taking the time to write a comment and thanks again for sharing your recipe with us!

      Alison

  4. Hi Alison! I am glad to be here through Google images on looking for this recipe. I found your blog to be of immense help to me. I made this dish and my husband is pleased to have it, which he found far better than palak paneer. Thank you so much for being kind enough on sharing this recipe.

  5. […] Notes Creamed Spinach is delicious served hot, with naan bread. Leftovers can be kept in airtight container and chilled for a day or two. Reheat in microwave or stovetop just until warmed through. 3.5.3208 Source: Chew Out Loud, adapted from Cooking with Alison […]

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