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The Curry Diaries – Chicken Saag

In The Curry Diaries on September 29, 2011 at 11:29 am

Another day another curry! Oh and a quick Hindi lesson; saag means spinach.

The other Indian cook book that I have to help me on my journey to being a masala maestro is, “Healthy Indian Cooking”, by Shehzad Husain and Manisha Kanani. The book gives very little help in achieving the authentic Indian taste that I want but it’s all I’ve got so I’m using it as a starting point. The Chicken Saag recipe is on page 98.

I cooked this curry last night. I altered the recipe to accommodate some things that I have learned from Anjum Anand. Because it’s such a deviation I’ve typed my new recipe out fresh. It is reproduced below:

Chicken Saag

Serves 4


300g fresh spinach leaves
1 tbsp. garlic paste
1 tbsp. ginger paste
1 tbsp. oil
1 bay leaf
10 black pepper corns
2 cardamom pods
1 onion
4 tomatoes, skins removed and puréed
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. chilli powder
½ tsp. salt
4 chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks)
400ml boiling water (approximately)


  1. Wash the spinach leaves. Without drying, transfer them to a saucepan with a lid and cook covered for 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the cooked spinach to a blender and blend together with the garlic and ginger pastes until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan with a lid. Add the bay leaf, pepper corns and cardamom pods, let them sizzle for about 10 seconds. Add the onion and fry until golden brown.
  4. Add the puréed tomatoes, dry spices and salt. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes to make a masala paste.
  5. Add the chicken to the masala and cook for about 2 minutes on each side.
  6. Add the spinach mixture to the pan and stir in.
  7. Cover the chicken in boiling water and simmer covered for 20 minutes until the chicken is nearly cooked. Uncover the pan to finish cooking and reduce the sauce.

Chicken Saag is a delicious dish; spinach goes so well in a curry. I will no doubt be cooking this again in a few weeks so will amend the recipe again. Some of the things that I will be thinking about are:

  • Adding the garlic and ginger to the spinach doesn’t work because they don’t have a chance to cook. Next time I will add them after point 3.
  • Mixing the spinach in after the chicken is pretty tricky so I may change this.
  • The original recipe adds yogurt which I might try next time.
  • I really enjoyed this curry but it was too hot for me even with only ½ tsp. chilli powder (honestly I’m such a wimp). The dry spice mix that I used is standard but I may play around with it to reduce the spiciness. Obviously adding yoghurt would also help.

The Curry Diaries are a chance for me to record my culinary adventure in India. I also hope that they will be a catalyst for blog writing which has been pretty hit-and-miss to date.


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