Chicken Saag

Chicken Saag

Chicken Saag

Spinach falls into the category of foods I should buy more often than I do. The problem is that frozen spinach is hard to work with in most spinach dishes (and they do a lousy job of trimming off the stems before they freeze the leaves) and freezing changes the texture of the leaves. In the dish below it doesn’t matter, but it explains the lack of spinach dishes on my site even though I like spinach and recognize it’s good for you. In today’s case there was a two for one sale on fresh spinach so I made Bravo Creamy Arriabiata pasta out of one of the contains and, faced with an additional “free” container of spinach this saag out of the second one.  If making Indian food at home worries you due to its complexity I would definitely go for this recipe. It is basically like making a spinach soup, but with chicken chunks thrown in and slightly more exotic spices than you might be used to. We happen to own all of the spices below since my husband went through an Indian cooking phase some years back (I know, I should use fresh spices, but I don’t). I don’t know why, but making good Indian food is his person quest holy grail of cooking. It’s been interesting to eat some of his experiments and it’s given us our weight in Indian spices. If you are missing any of the spices below, check out your local Indian grocery store. The spice prices there are dirt cheap and they have every Indian spice under the sun. Don’t pay Whole Foods prices just for convenience sake.  I highly recommend naan to go with this and scoop up the spinachy goodness.  I would not, unfortunately, plan it as weeknight meal. It takes just a bit too long (about 35 mins cooking time is my max on a weeknight) unless you try to work at breakneck pace to get it on the table comfortably. It does however, make a delicious alternative to Indian takeout!

Serves 3

Reheats Yes

Freeze No

Kid Friendly Tasks: Counting out the spices

Ingredients

  • 1 large box (1 lb rough) fresh spinach or one package frozen spinach (the average frozen pack is a bit too small, but two packs is too much), Puree in a blender or food processor ( you should get roughly two cups)
  • 1 lb chicken pieces (bone on, boneless, thigh, breast, whatever, just adjust your cooking time accordingly. I used boneless breast chunks because that’s what we tend to like, but anything works in this)
  • 1/2 c pureed onion
  • 2 tsp garlic paste or diced garlic
  • 2 tsp ginger paste or grated ginger
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped (or one can, drained of diced tomatoes)
  • 1/2 c thick yogurt
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • 3 black cardamom
  • 3 green cardamom
  • 2 (4″) cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 whole dried chilies
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil (add a dab of butter at the end if you use the oil)

Directions

  1. Add ghee, black cardamom, green cardamom, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and dried chilies to a hot (medium high heat) skillet. Stir fry about 1 min. Add garlic, ginger, stir a few times and then add the onion paste.
  2. Saute until the liquid has evaporated and things start to stick to your pan. Add the diced tomatoes and continue to cook over medium high heat. Add the yogurt, and tomato sauce. Then add the cumin, turmeric, garam masala,coriander, some salt (start with one tsp and work up) and the sugar. Cook for 2-3 additional minutes until the masala base has reduced in volume and the oil starts to reappear. Add the pureed spinach at this point.
  3. Mix everything well, lower the heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Add 1/2-2/3 c water (add slightly more if using bone in chicken) and the chicken pieces, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through. This will be anywhere from 15-25 minutes depending on the chicken chosen. Test for salt and pepper. Turn off heat and swirl in the cream. Serve with hot rice and enjoy!

Chicken Saag

Chicken Saag

 

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