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Spinach Saag over Rice

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Low Carb/Paleo
  • Vegetarian
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Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

Let Your Friends Try This Recipe!

Why we love it:

Chef Alison here, I want to personally encourage you to make this dish. I love to order versions of Saag when I eat out but it’s also one of my favorite dishes to make. So easy and flavorful, this dish freezes well, impresses guests, and microwaves the next day like a dream. Before I haul to the kitchen and make some, keep in mind that the slow sautéing of the onions/garlic/chile is more important here than in many dishes where it can hide. Tell me if you make it!


  • 16 ounces Frozen Chopped Spinach
  • 1 cup Basmati Rice (White)
  • 112 cups Water
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (divided)
  • 1 Yellow Onion (finely diced)
  • 4 cloves Garlic (finely minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger (finely minced, about 1 inch piece)
  • 1 Serrano Chili (finely minced. Seeds removed if you don't like it spicy!)
  • 3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 14 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • 8 ounces Paneer (firm Indian cheese. If you can’t find it, use firm feta or tofu)
  • 12 cup Plain Greek Yogurt

Cooking Instructions


    ** Thaw the spinach overnight or up to 48 hours ahead. If you didn’t do this, no worries. Remove packaging and place spinach in a microwaveable dish. Power on high for 5 minutes, stopping every 60 seconds to rotate and try to break in smaller chunks. It doesn’t have to be completely defrosted.

  • 2. RICE

    Combine rice, water and ½ of the salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat then stir well. Cover tightly and reduce to low. Steam for about 17 minutes or until rice is tender and the water has evaporated. Turn off the heat and let it sit, covered, until ready to serve.


    Peel and dice the onion as small as you can.

    Peel and mince the garlic and ginger too (that said, you can leave the skin on the ginger if it looks thin and moist). Mince the serrano too, removing the seeds if you don’t like it spicy. You can get started on the garlic, ginger and chile each separately then keep mincing them together until they’re in quite small pieces.


    Add ½ of the oil to a large, flat bottomed sauté pan and heat over medium.

    Add the onions, ginger, garlic and chile. Here's the important part: sauté the mixture until it's evenly toffee-colored and quite soft, it will take about 15 minutes.

  • 5. SPICES

    Add the garam masala, turmeric and cayenne. Stir the spices constantly for 1 minute.

  • 6. SPINACH

    Add the spinach and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach. Add the remaining salt and ½ cup of water, stir, and cook about 5 minutes with the lid off (unless your spinach has frozen chunks, the put a lid partially on until its fully defrosted, then do 5 minutes with it off).

  • 7. PANEER

    While it’s simmering, dice the paneer into cubes or batons. Stir into the spinach and heat for 4 minutes to warm through.

  • 8. YOGURT

    Turn the heat off. Add the yogurt, a little at a time to keep it from curdling, stirring constantly until its combined.

  • 9. SERVING

    Plate a scoop of rice and top with spinach saag and paneer. Call Chef Alison because she’s ready to eat her favorite meal with you!

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    using coconut milk instead of yogurt is quite delicious, we make it this way about half of the times we cook it. Also use firm tofu or garbanzo beans instead of cheese
    if you can’t find it, look for firm feta
    you can make a very simple spice blend with 1 teaspoon each ground: cumin, coriander, turmeric. If you can, grind in a cardamom pod too, or just add one while cooking and remove it before serving
  • TOMATO :
    sometimes I add a tablespoon of tomato paste with the spice blend. If you have some open, toss it in
  • PEAS:
    in Indian restaurants, they often serve a few peas on the rice, add a ½ cup of frozen peas to the rice pot after it's fully cooked and resting. Cover the pot and let steam for 3 - 4 minutes
  • RICE:
    serve over quinoa or lentils, or with a side of naan style flatbread
    saag is great with cubes of cooked chicken or shredded chicken. Also delicious with braised lamb or beef ; try braising it in the instantpot or slowcooker then stirring cubes into the sauce

Kid Friendly Version

Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

How to Tweak This Recipe for Kids:

  • Remove seeds so it’s less spicy if that’s a concern
  • If your kids won’t try a pile of green spinach, this one could be a losing battle. You could cook cauliflower florets in the spinach and pull out the cauliflower and the cubes of cheese, but for sure some kids will not be appeased by that. Worst case, make the rice, and roast some cauliflower (or veg of choice) and cubes of cheese separately. Serve next to the rice with a small scoop of saag on the side for tasting and normalizing it on the plate.

For Toddlers

  • Serve rice with spinach, you can reduce spiciness if needed though it's good to offer them a bit to get them used to it.
  • Serve rice and offer yogurt.
  • Chop up a few pieces of cheese or omit it. If not vegetarian, offer steamed chicken or fish.

For Choosy Eaters

  • Sear cubes of the cheese alone and it will be golden and like a "bread-less grilled cheese." Offer toothpicks and a dip they like or yogurt.
  • Try a plain leaf of spinach, the tiniest bite and steam a vegetable they'll eat or offer cucumbers.
  • If not vegetarian, steam some chicken in the sauce or seared on the side.

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

  1. Cook sauce ahead or at least prep the spinach. It reheats well
  2. Steam rice and microwave to serve
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