So thankful to a dear friend of mine who, sometime during November last year, asked me if I had shared the recipe for saagwala chicken on the blog. Her query led me to the realisation that I had not yet shared my father’s, finger licking good, spinach chicken recipe here. And once I got hold of the recipe from him and sent it to her, I knew for sure that it had to be catalogued here asap especially after receiving her very positive feedback and abundant compliments 😊 I was unable to fit in this post in my schedule last year, therefore sharing it now.
This dish is a good amalgamation of the proteins and greens. I sometimes give a smoky touch to the curry to make it taste like dhaba style chicken. It really takes the dish to a whole new level. I have explained the method for smoking the chicken in this post, in case you are not familiar with the method.
1 tbsp Lime Juice
5 tbsp drained Yogurt** / Greek yogurt (see notes at the end of the post)
1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
1 tsp fresh Green Chili paste
½ tsp Garam Masala
1 kg Chicken, curry cuts (on bone…highly recommended for a flavorful curry)
½ kg Spinach leaves (if stems are tender, include them as well)
50 ml Milk
3½ tbsp Cooking Oil (I use cold pressed Mustard Oil)
½ tsp Cumin Seeds
2 Black Cardamoms
6 Green Cardamoms
12 Black Peppers (crushed)
5 – 6 Cloves
½ inch Cinnamon
1 large Bay Leaf, torn in half
1¼ C sliced Onions
1 large (150 gm) Tomato, pureed (without adding water)
½ tsp to 1 tsp Red Chili powder (adjust to taste)
¾ tsp Turmeric Powder
2 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp roasted Cumin Powder
Salt to taste (I added approximately 1 tsp)
1½ to 2 tbsp Cream plus extra for drizzling
2 tsp Ghee plus extra for drizzling
Wash and pat dry the chicken. Make slits in the thigh piece and the chicken legs if the pieces are large. This helps the marinade to penetrate deep into the chicken pieces.
Transfer the chicken in a glass mixing bowl. Mix in one tablespoon of lime juice and set aside for ten minutes.
Now add the yogurt, ginger garlic paste, green chili paste and garam masala. (those sensitive to the heat of green chili should use spatula or gloves to mix in the marinade)
Mix everything well till all pieces are well coated. Cover and keep chicken bowl in the fridge for at least two hours (in case you are really pressed for time, half an hour should suffice) I always marinate the chicken, over night.
MAKING THE CURRY
Wash spinach in plenty of water at least three to four times to get rid of any dirt / grit. Place the spinach in a colander to drain excess water.
Bring at least two litres of water to boil and add the washed spinach to it. Cook for approximately two minutes. Remove the spinach from the water and plunge in cold water to stop the process of cooking.
Drain the contents and squeeze out excess water from the spinach by pressing it between your cupped hands.
In a blender, add 50 ml of milk and add spinach.
Blend till the spinach to attain purée (I do not go for a fine texture of purée, as is evident from the pictures).
Decant the puréed spinach in to a bowl and set aside.
Add the whole spices (cumin seeds, black cardamom, green cardamons, cloves, cinnamon, crushed black peppers, and bay leaves) and stir around the spices for a few seconds while the cumin seeds crackles.
Add the sliced onions. Fry till they begin to turn brown. (At this point i advise you to reduce the heat and quickly get rid of whole garam masala so that someone doesn’t bite on it when you serve the curry)
Add tomato pulp and cook the tomato till the masala begins to release oil around the sides of the pan.
Add the marinated chicken and cook on high heat for ten minutes. Add powdered spices – red chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder, salt and roasted cumin powder. Stir well so the spices are well assimilate and cook for a minute.
Reduce heat and cover and cook till the chicken is nearly done. (stir the chicken frequently)
Add spinach puree and also add half a cup of milk (add more if required, to adjust the consistency). Cook for a five more minutes. Add and stir in the cream along with the ghee.
Decant the chicken in the serving bowl (at this point, smoke the chicken if you wish to and then proceed further)
Drizzle over some more cream (optional though) and some ghee (highly recommended) before serving.
It tastes great with chapati, naan and rice.
Serve with a simple salad of onion, cucumber and carrots or with some pickled onions and beets (highly recommended)
Note – The ratio of chicken to spinach is flexible and feel free to suit your taste. We prefer to serve the curry somewhat thick. Adjust consistency to suit your taste.
Note** – In case you do not have Greek yogurt or drained yogurt, use three tbsp regular dahi (yogurt) and add two tablespoons of cream to it for marinating the chicken.
Note – The consistency of the curry depends on how you like it. Feel free to add some water or milk to loosen it up
Serves – 4 to 5