CHICKEN SAAG is an earthy, spinach based dish often served in regions of Northern India.
Saag is a leaf based dish made with a mixture of spices served with bread such as naan or roti. The dish is most commonly made with spinach, however, can also be made with chopped broccoli, mustard greens, or collard greens, and often includes paneer (an un-aged non-melting cheese).
This recipe for chicken saag is delightfully fresh, earthy and intensely flavorful. Don’t be intimidated by the large ingredient list! It is not a difficult dish to make. The spices should be pretty easy to find – if not I’ve included links in the recipe to buy them. And the smell of the dish while cooking…I sometimes wish they made a saag curry scented candle. I’m sure my neighbors are grateful they don’t.
NOTE: I like to purchase herbs and spices from Spicely, mainly because you can purchase a small quantity so your spices won’t go bad! They are also fully organic and non-GMO if that’s your thing.
First things first, we want to make the spinach sauce. Drain the frozen spinach and squeeze out any excess water. Combine spinach, chilies, cilantro and 1/2 cup water in blender or food processor. Process until smooth and set aside.
Next we want to prepare the spice mixture. Start by toasting the whole spices (plus bay leaf) in a sauté pan until fragrant. Remove and grind with mortar and pestle. Combine with remaining ground spices, reserving the last 1/2 tsp. of garam masala for finishing. Set aside.
Heat the ghee in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken thighs for 3 minutes on each side; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Turn the heat down to medium, add the onions to the sauté pan and cook until translucent. Then add the ground spices and cook for 1 minute, or until they become fragrant. Add the garlic and ginger, stir fry for 30 seconds then add the chilies and red peppers and stir fry for another 1-2 minutes, or until the red peppers start to soften.
Next, we add the tomatoes, tomato paste and coconut milk, stirring well to make a thick sauce.
Add the browned chicken thighs and pour the spinach mixture over top.
Add salt and stir all ingredients together. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until chicken cooked through. I typically cook for about 13 minutes.
Finish with the remaining 1/2 tsp of garam masala and additional salt to taste. Serve the chicken saag with basmati rice and/or naan bread. See, not to difficult right? There are a lot of ingredients, but once you take a few minutes to get organized and set your ingredients out, the rest is cake. Well, the rest is actually curry, but you get my point.