Guyanese bhaji is sautéed spinach made with garlic and tomatoes for a simple and nutritious vegan side dish. This easy sautéed spinach recipe is ready in just 20 minutes and pairs really well with most curries and a side of dhal.
What is Guyanese Bhaji?
Guyanese bhaji is sautéed spinach. Don’t confuse it with the Indian fritter. It will take you less time to cook sautéed spinach (especially if using frozen spinach) than it took me to write this post. Spinach or bahgie, as it is commonly known in Guyana is in steady rotation in my house because it is packed with nutritional goodness.
Why You’ll Love This Sautéed Spinach Recipe
- Quick & Easy: In less than 30 minutes (prep included), you have really yummy bahgie.
- Nutritious: These power greens are loaded with good-for-you nutrients like iron, calcium, protein, and vitamin A. This recipe is vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free.
- Versatile: There are many ways to modify this dish with various ingredients. Enjoy Guyanese bhaji as a side dish or a filling for roti. Serve it alongside rice, meat, and seafood dishes (sautéed spinach and shrimp are a popular combo).
Ingredients for Guyanese Bhaji
This recipe easily comes together with just a handful of simple ingredients.
- What is Guyanese Bhaji?
- Why You’ll Love This Sautéed Spinach Recipe
- Ingredients for Guyanese Bhaji
- Fresh Spinach versus Frozen Spinach
- How to Sauté Spinach
- Tips for the Best Sautéed Spinach
- Recipe Variations
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Guyanese Bhaji (Sautéed Spinach)
- Fresh Spinach: Chopped. Alternatively, use 4-6 cups of frozen chopped whole leaf spinach.
- Large Tomatoes: Diced and added for a pop of freshness and a hint of natural sweetness to balance the savory flavors.
- Garlic Cloves: Grated.
- Oil: To sauté.
- Salt: A little bit goes a long way.
See recipe card for quantities.
Fresh Spinach versus Frozen Spinach
I don’t particularly have a preference for fresh or frozen spinach. Both yield equal results in my opinion. However, frozen spinach is easy to just stick in your freezer and forget it until you need a quick and nutritious side dish. I can’t tell you how many times fresh spinach has wilted up in my refrigerator before I remembered that I bought it. Even when I put it in a jar with water, it doesn’t stay fresh long enough.
However, I do have a preference on the type of frozen spinach that is best for this dish. Whole leaf or cut leaf frozen is the best option for sautés. This frozen spinach looks closest to fresh chopped spinach and cooks up with the same texture. Regular chopped spinach or sautéed baby spinach is usually so tiny that it gets mushy quickly.
How to Sauté Spinach
Add oil to a large sauté pan on medium heat. When the pan comes up to temperature, add tomatoes and garlic and cook until tomatoes are soft.
Then add the chopped spinach. If you are using frozen spinach, defrost it completely before cooking, then squeeze out any excess water. Sauté spinach on medium to high heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked. When using fresh spinach this will take about 10 minutes. Allow additional cooking time for frozen spinach.
Store leftover spinach in an airtight container in the fridge. It lasts up to 5 days. To reheat it, warm it up gently in the microwave.
Tips for the Best Sautéed Spinach
- If using fresh spinach, remember to rinse them thoroughly with cold water before cooking. Use a salad spinner to dry them using paper towels.
- Be careful not to overcook the spinach. The spinach is finished when all the water has cooked down and it has a slightly dark green color.
- Do not cover the spinach while cooking or it will “spring” a lot of water and you’ll likely end up with steamed spinach. Although it is tasty, it won’t yield the texture you expect.
- Sautéed spinach is best served immediately.
- Coconut Milk: Some people add coconut milk to their bahgie. If you like you can add 3 tbsp. coconut milk right when you add the spinach. It gives it a rich flavor.
- Sautéed Spinach and Mushrooms: For a more filling meatless side dish, add your favorite mushrooms.
- Lemon: A squeeze of lemon juice just before serving brightens the overall taste of Guyanese bhaji.
Frequently Asked Questions
In Guyana, most Indo-Guyanese (Guyanese with Indian ancestry) people refer to spinach as bahgie.
Spinach contains oxalic acid, a natural acid that prevents the absorption of essential minerals like iron and calcium. But when you cook spinach at a high temperature, this compound breaks down, making it easier for the body to absorb nutrients. Additionally, cooking spinach can make it easier to digest more of the superfood.
Raw spinach is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that offer numerous health benefits. When sautéed properly, you can retain many of these benefits while also enjoying the flavor and texture that cooking it brings out. Spinach is loaded with antioxidants, but also promotes digestive health, regulates blood sugar, and reduces the risk of cancer.
Guyanese Bhaji (Sautéed Spinach)
- Large Sauté Pan
- 3 bundles Fresh Spinach chopped OR 4-6 cups of frozen chopped whole leaf spinach
- 3 Large Tomatoes diced
- 5 Garlic Cloves grated
- 3 tbsp Oil
- ½ tsp Salt
- Add oil to a large sauté pan on medium heat.
- When pan comes up to temperature, add tomatoes and garlic and cook until tomatoes are soft.
- Then add the chopped spinach, if using frozen spinach defrost spinach completely before cooking, then squeeze out excess water.
- Sauté spinach on medium to high heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked. When using fresh spinach this will take about 10 minutes. Allow additional cooking time for frozen spinach.
- Spinach is finished when all the water has cooked down and the spinach has a slightly dark green color, careful not to overcook the spinach.
The information listed in the recipe card is an estimate provided by an online nutrition tool. The tool evaluates ingredient names and amounts then makes calculations based on the number of servings listed for the recipe. It is provided as a general guideline and not as a precise calculation. For precise nutrition information please feel free to add the ingredients to your preferred nutrition calculator or consult a doctor or licensed nutritionist.