Saag Chicken

Saag Chicken

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.


Saag Chicken 3

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

19 thoughts on “Saag Chicken

  1. Made it tonight and it was spot on. Reminded me of a dish I had at Mother India in Glasgow. The dal was less impressive. On for about 90 mins and still a bit hard…

    • Hi Brian. Make sure that the daal is on a medium to high heat for 45 minutes. If you’re using a gas ring, is it the biggest ring? The daal should be bubbling away quite vigorously and be covered. Hope you try again – it’s the loveliest, simplest dish. Wouldn’t want you to miss out 🙂

  2. Chicken Saag now perfected…. 4th or 5th time now and the addition of garlic is wow!!! Part of my regular diet. Gimme more, more, more.

  3. Thank you so much Aasmahmir – I’m now no longer a 55 y/old Curry Virgin; yup, I’m ashamed to say Saag Chicken was the first curry I’ve cooked. Wife and I really enjoyed it – decided to use lemon as additional flavour, using lemon oil and adding lemon zest which worked well for us (perhaps I should have washed it down with PLJ!). Appreciated the recipe’s (relative) simplicity and speed as well as wholesome flavours and would like to think it was a healthyish meal too! Onwards and upwards to your Fish Curry methinks.

  4. Hi Aasmah, got the spinach and have now made the dish twice, it is really delicious, simple to cook and must be good for you too with all that spinach!!
    Do you think it could be frozen?
    Keep the recipes coming!

    • Hi Marie, yes it can be frozen, like most curries. I freeze portions of it and when I get home, it takes about ten minutes to defost and heat through, with a wee splash of water…

  5. Is this a mild or medium hot curry. Might be a nice idea to put a guide as to heat. I like mine medium to hot but my wife likes them mild to medium. Difficult 🙂

  6. Hi, I can cook but decided to try “new” recipes and came across your website. Tried the saag chicken. I found the end product a bit bland and wondered how it could be made a bit more spicy (not just hot) without destroying the dish. Also I used chicken breast and as often happens with breast, it was a bit dry tasting – any better cuts of the chicken?

    • Hi Raj, all I can suggest is that you increase the amount of garlic and ginger and coriander powder. If you’re a fan of ghee, maybe use that instead of veg/olive oil. Also my mum uses more oil anyway but I am trying to keep this dish healthy. We were very fussy as kids and didn’t like any boned chicken in our food so our poor mum had to use boneless cuts. But you could use chicken thighs etc as long as you keep the pieces relatively small. Good luck.

  7. Hi, I’ve realised that u have to put the spinach in a pan of water until the water has evaporated, why is that? Many recipes I have seen they say to add the spinach directly into the pan. What difference will it make?

  8. Hi, im English but i love Indian food and have just started to try and cook my own. Today for the first time ever i made a Moong Dal (uttar pradesh-style) with basmati & cumin seed rice and it was really delicious.
    Im going to try and cook your recipe for Saag Chicken and i will let you know it turns out.
    I like the recipes youve got on this site and ill be attempting to try and cook some of them shortly.

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