Saag Halloumi Recipe

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Photo by Nassima Rothacker

This is based on the classic British–Indian staple of saag paneer, though with a little more emphasis on lightness and freshness. While you can guarantee you’ll find me propped against the table in a curry house on a Friday night, devouring vatfuls of the original kind, it would be a little too indulgent for a midweek dinner. This home version uses halloumi instead of paneer – I find the saltiness of halloumi brings out so much more character in the spices.

Serves 2


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g (9oz) halloumi, cut into 2cm (3/4in) dice
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4cm (1-1/2in) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2  tsp chilli powder
  • 200g (7oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 250g (9oz) baby leaf spinach
  • Fine sea salt


  1. Put 1 tablespoon of the oil into a large, deep-sided frying or sauté pan and set over a high heat. As soon as the oil shimmers, add the halloumi and fry, tossing frequently, for a few minutes until the cheese is deeply browned. Tip the halloumi into a bowl lined with kitchen paper, and return the pan to the heat, along with the remaining oil and the onion. Fry the onion, again tossing the pan very frequently or the onion will burn, until lightly charred and somewhat softened – though I like to retain a little bite in the onion to balance with the tender halloumi – about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and spices to the pan and fry, tossing, for a minute, then throw in the cherry tomatoes and 3 tablespoons of water. Cover the pan and allow the tomatoes to bubble and break down, just until they only vaguely retain their rounded shape – albeit weathered and deflated – about 5 minutes. Do stir the pan frequently so nothing catches on the bottom.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir the halloumi into the curry, which should be much drier by now. Add the spinach (usually in one or two batches, allowing each to wilt before adding the next). Once the spinach has wilted, remove from the heat, taste and season as required. Serve immediately.

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Excerpted with permission from A Flash in the Pan by John Whaite and published by Kyle Books.

Inspiration for edible alchemy.