When it comes to simple everyday meals – like this Saag Chicken or Palak Chicken, I find it hard to succumb myself to the traditional Indian daily routine of Dal–Sabzi – translated, simply meaning a lentil and vegetable preparation. A simple Indian lunch would mainly consist of a lentil and a side of some vegetable, cooked in different variations every day. These are then relished with warm rotis, rice, a dollop of pickle, and some fresh yogurt demanding palate.
Often, when I talk to people on the topic of curries, the most common concern I get confronted with is the amount of time, and not to mention the effort that comes with it. I for one, beg to differ. A curry is nothing but a smooth blend of flavours brought together to highlight a star ingredient, just like in this recipe for Saag Chicken.
True, you can spend hours toasting, pounding, and grinding spices to form the smoothest of pastes; you can spend days marinating and chopping to achieve the most delicate blend possible, and you can also lose yourself in a cloud of spices and herbs that would fill your kitchen and your home with an aroma almost so ambrosial, you would think you woke up in a foreign land. But then again, you could do what I do on days when all I have at my disposal are a few measly minutes at the brink of lunch-time with a rumbling tummy to cater to.
As I see it, curries are not something one should be afraid of. Neither are they something to look at with such cynicism or vengeance. I like mine to be quick and robust with flavour, and I don’t stop till I find my way with it. I recently bought a new blender, which promises to have all the amazing functions I could ever wish for – and I was dying to test this baby out for my Saag Chicken recipe! The spinach blended to a smooth puree and the blender was a delight to work with.
Saag Chicken/Palak Chicken (Spinach Chicken Curry)
- 2 tbsp light cooking oil
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1- inch stick of cinnamon
- 3-4 green cardamom pods
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 large tomato finely chopped
- 2 large boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
- 500 gms frozen spinach thawed and pureed
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt beaten till smooth
- salt to taste
- water as needed
- Heat oil in a deep non-stick pan and add in cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Once they start to sizzle, add in the onions and ginger-garlic paste and fry till fragrant and lightly browned. Add in the spices and fry for a few seconds. Stir in the chopped tomato and cook till it begins to pulp.
- Slowly add in the chicken, stir well to coat it with the spice mix, and let it cook covered for a couple of minutes. Slowly mix in the spinach puree and cook covered on low heat for 4-5 minutes till it starts to bubble and the chicken is cooked through. Add in yogurt, stirring well to blend in.
- Season with salt and cook for another 4-5 minutes, adding in some water if you’d like a thinner consistency.
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