I grew up eating saag gosht, or lamb with spinach. Now I eat saag paneer and saag chicken – and there’s still something about the smell and taste of saag that transports me back to my mum’s 1980′s kitchen, where we ate piping hot plates of saag, inevitably with mountains of rice, while the windows steamed up and my big brother kicked me under the table. I associate it with winter, but it’s perfect any time.
You might think that any recipe with spinach is going to be a bit ‘worthy’. But you’d be wrong. “Cooking spinach without oil is like cooking grass”, my mum says. And she’s right. Which is why you need at least 4 tablespoons of olive oil for this recipe. This dish will really surprise you. Unctuous, earthy, divine. With the muskiness of the spinach and the tenderness of the chicken, I doubt you’ll look at spinach in quite the same way again. And don’t bother with fresh spinach – it’s too unwieldy to work with in the quantities you will need for this recipe. This should feed 4 people.
- 4 tbsps vegetable or olive oil
- 1 onion, finely sliced or diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional but recommended)
- 500g chicken, cut into very small pieces, no bigger than an inch
- 1/2 to 1 heaped tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 to 1 tsp salt
- 1 heaped tsp coriander powder
- 500g frozen spinach – use chopped spinach in preference to leaf spinach if you can
- 1 tbsp ginger, chopped or julienne
Put the frozen spinach into a pan with ½ cup water and cook on a medium heat until most of the liquid has gone.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, and on a medium heat, add the oil and then the onion, and cook until browned, about 10 minutes.
Optional: add a few chopped cloves of garlic and mix well.
Add the chicken, and mix.
Add chilli, salt, coriander.
Mix through to combine and cook until the oil separates out, 10-15 mins.
(If at any point, the chicken looks like it’s catching on the bottom of the pan, add a little bit of water.)
Add the spinach and the ginger, evaporate virtually all the liquid, mixing, for 10-15 mins.
Taste and check the salt and chilli levels.
If you like, add a tablespoon of oil at the end to make it glossy, and mix through on a low heat for a few minutes.
Serve with rice or roti.
TIP: If spinach isn’t your thing, you can omit the spinach and just put ginger in. Check out the recipe for Ginger Chicken.
TIP: Cut the chicken into as small pieces as possible – it makes the whole dish more tender and looks more appetising