A staple of Northern Indian cuisine, saag is a spinach dish best enjoyed with grains or Indian bread to soak up its soupy deliciousness. Rather than paneer, this vegan saag recipe is studded with chickpeas, for a satisfying touch of starchiness.

Tip: Chile peppers contain oils that can irritate your skin and eyes. Wear plastic or rubber gloves when working with them. 

By Darshana Thacker Wendel,


  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1½-inch piece serrano chile, finely chopped (see tip in intro)
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 bunches (1 lb.) fresh spinach, washed and drained
  • 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice


  • Heat a large skillet over high until a few drops of water sizzle when sprinkled in the pan. Add cumin seeds; toast 1 minute. Add onions, garlic, ginger, serrano chile, and ¼ cup water. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until onions are tender, stirring frequently and adding water, 1 to 2 Tbsp. at a time, as needed to prevent sticking.
  • Add the next five ingredients (through cinnamon) to skillet. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Stir in spinach; cook about 10 minutes more or until spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let cool slightly.
  • Transfer spinach mixture to a blender; add 1 cup water. Cover and blend until smooth. Return sauce to skillet. Add chickpeas. Cook until heated through. Stir in lime juice.

Comments (20)

(5 from 13 votes)

Recipe Rating

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This was very good once I added a teaspoon of chunky chat Masala. Before that it was so bland as written but then some people wouldn't like too much spice and it is always easy to add more. It is very satisfying.


Forgot to add that this gets 5 stars from me...


Yes, add more spice- yes also: don’t add more cayenne I used an immersion blender- what I did use the high speed blender was to make a cashew cream that I added (cashews and soy milk, about 1:2) instead of adding any water- my husband and son love palak paneer and this modification made it perfect for them, along w using tofu cubes instead of chickpeas, although I’m sure chickpeas would make a great dish, also- maybe next time!


I made this and tripled the spices, added 1 tsp ground fenugreek, used one whole jalapeño with the seeds, a huge tomato so it was 2 cups instead of 1, and two pounds of spinach - I wasn't clear on whether she meant to use two 1 lb bunches, or 1 lb total. It was delicious. I would add even more chickpeas next time. A keeper.


One other thing - I added the spinach in batches and kept the lid on while it cooked, so it withheld lots of moisture, and therefore didn't add the additional cup of water when puréeing, it didn't need it.


I made this recipe tonight and felt it lacked… something. I tripled the spice and added about 3/4 tsp of salt. I didn’t increase the heat spice, it was enough. I added an additional can of chickpeas since the two cans seemed to be not enough.

Elizabeth Stuart

Looks delicious!


So good. Thank you for the recipe.


Agree with all comments below that this recipe is delicious, but definitely at least double the spices- without it, I can only imagine that it would be bland. I just love how healthy AND delicious this recipe is. I am sure you will love it too!

Ashley C

This was really good. I doubled the spices like everyone else in the comments. All but the cayenne. Still spicy but delicious!

Faith Alfreda Tyler

I also double or triple the spices for layers of full flavor, without it, I wouldn't be WFPB. I cannot enjoy bland food :)

Kim Bodeau

This is really good. I did increase spices but I always do. This is a keeper

Chris Cummings

What kind of tomatoes?


Love this recipe! I like how it’s not too spicy! I don’t/won’t eat spicy food. I have an Indian friend that makes it way too spicy! So this is perfect


Delicious! Thank you!


This is a go-to of ours. I do triple the spices, but the taste is delicious!

Cynthia McCaskill

I am forever disappointed in the spice flavoring of almost all their recipes, this one included. It tastes very “American bland”. The flavors are nothing compared to what you get in a real Indian restaurant.


I agree. I doubled, if not tripled most of the spices and the lime juice. That was all it needed and did the trick!

Karin Rush

I at least double the herbs and spices to almost all recipes too.


Sooooo good

About the Author

Headshot of Darshana Thacker

About the Author

Darshana Thacker Wendel

Darshana Thacker Wendel is a whole-food, plant-based chef and former culinary projects manager for Forks Over Knives. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of Forks Over Knives: Flavor! She created the recipes for Forks Over Knives Family and was a lead recipe contributor to the New York Times bestseller The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit DarshanasKitchen.com and follow her on Instagram for more.
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