BRITAIN | EUROPE | INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT
This potato and spinach dish originated with the Pakistani-run restaurants in England during the 1950s and 1960s. Adapting it from their homeland in the Punjab where it was made with mustard leaves, it became a vegetarian favourite in Asian restaurants during the 1970s.
It became very popular after the American-based Indian food writer Madhur Jaffrey included it in her 1982 book, Indian Cooking.
Aloo Saag (also known as Saag Aloo) was made with equal amounts of potatoes and spinach. Some recipes included other leaves.
Chillies, garlic and ginger added heat, cumin seeds and mustard seeds added a depth of flavour, coriander and fenugreek leaves added piquancy and lemon juice added a hint of sourness.
Chefs who also added their own spice mixtures found that this subtle touch was enough to attract customers to their restaurants, while other diners, who had the misfortune to eat the bland versions, wondered what the fuss was about!
One of the world’s great dishes.
- 500 g potatoes, 3 cm dice
- 350 g spinach
- 100 g coriander leaves
- 100 g fenugreek leaves
- 60 ml water
- 45 ml mustard oil / rapeseed oil
- 1 cm ginger, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 15 ml lemon juice
- 2 green / red chillies, sliced along length (optional)
- 10 g black mustard seeds
- 5 g cumin seeds
- 5 g garam masala (spice mixture)
- Asafoetida, pinch
- Salt, pinch
Wilt the spinach leaves in four tablespoons of water, drain and retain the liquid. Chop spinach.
Heat the oil in a large wok, add the asafoetida, ginger and garlic, and immediately follow with the cumin and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop add the potatoes.
Fry potatoes in the mixture for about five minutes, add fenugreek leaves and chillies.
Transfer the contents of the wok to a large pot, deglaze the wok with the spinach water, and add to the potatoes.
Cook until the potatoes are soft. Add the cooked spinach and coriander leaves. Stir, add the garam masala. Add salt to taste, stir.
Dress with lemon juice.
Serve with chapati or rice, or both.
INDIGENOUS INGREDIENT = Coriander Leaves | Fenugreek Leaves