Classic Saag Aloo

Mallika Basu - Classic Saag Aloo

Posted 8th May 2013

There are two things a long career in PR has given me: 1) thick skin and 2) a great shoe collection. But this scathing critique for my Saag Aloo recipe sent a stiletto piercing through my epidermis:

“Can’t put into words how awful this recipe is!
My diners referred to it as sediment dredged from the River Thames!
Needless to say, as it wasn’t even edible for the dog, it went into the bin!!”


Saag Aloo is a British curry house favourite of the world’s two blandest vegetables combined in what can only just be rescued by the miracle of spices. The keyword here is just.

I felt a weak moment approaching. So I went straight to the Peruvian man for sympathy. The resident photographer and food taster.

Serves you right“, came the pat response, “I can’t think of a worse combination of things to make a recipe of.”

This, from a man brought up in the land where potatoes originated.

I didn’t make it up. It’s an actual recipe. It’s also one of the most requested recipes on my blog, I persisted, and one of the most common keywords for people to get here.

“Tell them they’re wrong. That’s what you do, isn’t it?!”

Not content with totally missing the point of this blogging business, he proceeded to refuse to photograph the next effort. Not ready to be outsmarted, I dished up try 3 with a full meal and held the feast back until the photo was taken.

If my gruesome intro and ghastly description hasn’t put you off, this recipe is actually quite lovely. The key is to cook the potato with the spices without parboiling and to use lots of salt, some green chilli and a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to lift the spinach. I always ate this back home with pureed spinach. But you could just use chopped, frozen spinach like I did here.

And here it is. If this is what you get when you put the world’s two blandest ingredients together, I’ll have a 2nd helping with an extra serving of abuse, thanks.

PS = That’s my lucky oven glove in the pic. Waiting for your verdict with bated breath…

Feeds 4:

225gm potato

225gm chopped spinach (I used freshly frozen)

1 green chilli

1 garlic clove

Half tsp coriander powder

Half tsp cumin powder

1 tsp chopped coriander leaves

Squeeze of lemon

Salt to taste

1 tbsp oil

Dice the potatoes into small cubes and mince the garlic. In a medium pot or wok, bring the oil to heat on high. When it starts sizzling around a wooden spoon, gently drop in the garlic and potatoes. Toss them gently and mix in the spice powders.

You want to stir this until the potatoes are almost cooked – you will know because the outside will be translucent and a fork will go through a piece with some difficulty. If the potatoes start going brown or sticking to the bottom of the wok, add a tablespoon of water. You could even cover the wok to help cook the potatoes faster.

Next mix in the spinach and green chillies. Mix the ingredients together for another five minutes until the potatoes are cooked. Add salt to taste, stir through the fresh coriander and squeeze a little lemon before you serve this.

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