Saturday, 3 January 2015

Saag Murgh : Spicy Spinach Chicken Curry

I love spinach.  It is without a doubt that spinach is my favourite leafy vegetable. At home, one of the winter lunchtime regulars is a simple stir-fry seasoned tempered with mustard seeds, fenugreek and  dry red chilies. Sometimes it's finished off with a generous sprinkle of poppy seeds. I can polish off obscene amounts of rice with just that. Then there is the Palong Shaaker Ghonto - a classic Bengali dish, a medley of winter vegetables like spinach, radish,  pumpkin, etc cooked with few spices. I add spinach in my lentil soups and curries, make parathas and fritters with it, I like it in my pies with some crumbled feta, I love the quintessential Palak Paneer and then I like to add spinach to my meat curries and fish stews.

My boyfriend on the other hand hates spinach. He refuses to eat anything that has spinach in it. I was shocked when I first found this out about him, I mean who doesn't like spinach...I think I even wondered if I was dating a normal person. Anyway, I have bullied him into eating spinach a few times. And today was one such day. I had some fresh spinach in the fridge and I decided to make a mean Saag Chicken with it and then my wicked streak came into play, I picked up the pone and invited him over for lunch. The moment I lifted the lid off my bowl of Chicken in a spicy spinach gravy, he crinkled his nose and said with a suspicious  nonchalance, "My stomach is hurting, I think I'll skip lunch." Moments earlier he had been going on about how hungry he was. Talk about grown men. But I wouldn't let go so easily. After a good deal of coaxing and cajoling, threatening and pleading, he sat down to eat.

An then he couldn't stop. In fact, he asked for a second helping and a third and swore he could eat spinach everyday if it tasted the way it did today. Okay I am bragging, but this recipe is really finger licking good. One of my absolute favourites. I love to have it with phulkas or crisp parathas, check it out.


Chicken - 1 kg 
Spinach (cleaned and chopped roughly) - 750 g 
Coriander leaves - 1 cup (packed)
Mint leaves - 1/4 cup 
Garlic - 10 cloves (large)
Ginger - 1 inch 
Onions (thinly sliced) - 2 large 
Cardamom - 4
Cinnamon - 2-3 inch 
Cloves - 4 
Black cardamom - 2 
Bay leaves - 2 
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp 
Coriander - 1.5 tbsp 
Fennel - 1 tsp 
Peppercorns - 1.5 tbsp 
Tamarind extract - 2 tbsp 
Salt to taste 
A pinch of sugar 
Mustard oil - 4-5 tbsp 
Ghee - 1 tbsp 


Boil the cleaned and roughly chopped spinach and drain. Rinse under clean water and drain. Squeeze out excess water from the spinach and keep aside. 

Dry roast the peppercorns, fennel, cumin and coriander seeds and grind to a coarse powder. 

In a food processor pulse the spinach, coriander, mint, green chilies,  ginger and garlic with a little water. 

In a heavy bottomed pan add mustard oil and ghee and heat until hot. Reduce heat and add the cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves and black cardamom. Once they begin to exude their aroma, add the onions. 

Fry the onions until a deep golden brown. Add the pulsed spinach mix and fry until oil separates. 

Add the dry roasted spice mix, turmeric and red chili powder. Add the chicken and fry until oil separates. 

Add salt and then add warm water enough to cook the chicken through. Once chicken is tender and oil floats up, add a pinch of sugar and the diluted tamarind pulp. Mix well, cook for another two-three minutes and remove from heat. 

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