The Saag Aloo is a family love and hate. I mean, how many kids really like spinach? Mine aren’t fans! By blending spinach into meals and adding a lot of (warming, like cinnamon and nutmeg) spices, we get away with eating it fairly regularly.
Interestingly, the kids love to nibble fresh baby spinach off the plant in the garden… but we digress.
Saga Aloo, curried potatoes with spinach, is a relatively quick and easy dish to make with the kids, teaching great basics around cleaning, cutting and cooking potatoes, experimenting with spices and creating a balanced, nutritious dish that can be enjoyed on its own or as a side.
Time: this dish take about 30 minutes to make from start to finish.
Saag Aloo Ingredients
- 1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into small (3cm/ 1 inch) pieces
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil
- 2-4 large garlic cloves, pressed – depending on taste (we love garlic, so we go for more)
- 1 tbsp or 3 cm piece ginger, finely chopped or blended
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp hot chilli powder or a large chilli de-seeded and finely chopped- use to taste. If your kids aren’t fans of hot, spicy food, then just add a dash of chilli powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- salt to taste
- 250g bag of fresh spinach or frozen spinach – we tend to use frozen spinach
The real way to make this is to cook the potatoes with all the wonderful spices. However, we’ve had varying luck with how well the potatoes cooked. So we peel and cut the potatoes, pop them in hot salted water, bring them to boil and pre-cook them on a simmer for 5-6 minutes. (Till they are almost done.)
When they are done, drain and rinse with cold water. (This stops them going too soft.)
In the meantime, you can chop the onions.
TIP: We have this really handy spike that I spear the half onion on and it gives the kids a guide to cut by, gives them a handhold other than on the the slippery onion too. #cookingwithkids
Heat 2 tbsp sunflower oil in a large pan, add the chopped onion, the crushed garlic cloves and 1 tbsp chopped ginger, and fry for about 3 mins.
TIP: Sometimes we’ll pop the roughly cut onions, the whole cloves of garlic and roughly cut ginger with the oil into the blender and blend to a paste. It’s a quick way to do it, though it does, somehow, change the flavours. This method does make the prep that bit faster (though you end up with more washing up to do)
Stir in the spices and cook for a minute or two on medium heat- taking care not to burn it. (That will turn the spices bitter.)
Here you have 2 alternatives depending on whether you are using frozen spinach or fresh spinach:
Using frozen spinach
If you are using frozen spinach add it at this point and continue to stir till the spinach is defrosted, then add in the potatoes and tomato puree. To ensure you don’t burn the food, you want a bit of fluid in the bottom, so depending on how much fluids came off the spinach, you may need to top it up with a little water. Cover and simmer for 5-6 mins (or until the potatoes are cooked).
Using fresh spinach
If you are cooking with fresh spinach, add in the potatoes with a bit of water (just enough that the ingredients don’t burn- I find about a cup of water works for us), stir and get to a simmer under a lid. add spinach only once the mixture is piping hot again and potatoes are cooked. Let It simmer for 2-3 minutes, while spinach wilts.
Remove from heat and serve.
Why is the potato and spinach curry a curry night staple?
We often make saag aloo for an Indian curry night, when we really would love to be eating out but circumstances prevent it. It’s great for several reasons:
It’s so easy! 2 main ingredients and some onions only besides the spices.
It’s quick to prepare (and it tastes even better the day after as the spices mature together. So perfect a leftover meal too.)
The children learn to experiment with spices, including making it as hot as they like. We have grown our own chillis in our tiny urban garden , so these are particularly fun to use in our own cooking.
Spinach is a great superfood. It is packed with lots of iron, polyphenols and lots more.
“Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate as well as being a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2″ According to BBC’s Good food guide
The only people who need to be cautious of eating too much spinach are those who have a history of kidney stones formed from oxalate crystals. The oxalic acid in spinach can make this worse (…but you would have to eat a lot and often.)
Have you got any tips for making this with the kids and for kids? Share your tips below