This Chicken Saag (Chicken Palak) is a classic Indian curry that is easy to make at home. It is a flavor-packed curry with chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, frozen spinach, and aromatic spices.
You can find everything you need for this recipe at the grocery store. And using frozen spinach makes it even more convenient.
There is no cream or dairy in this curry, yet it has a beautiful rich flavor thanks to the onions. They are the secret weapon for giving you a profoundly flavored curry. Serve this Chicken Saag with a side of rice and some naan for an Indian feast.
What is Chicken Saag?
The word Saag means leafy greens- so a saag curry will contain leafy greens like spinach, kale, mustard greens, basella, collard greens, or a combination.
This particular version uses spinach, known as palak in India. Giving this Chicken Saag the name Chicken Palak or Saag Wala Chicken. It is a mild to medium curry with a rich flavor.
- Spinach: The recipe uses frozen chopped spinach, which makes it super convenient. Just get it out of the freezer in the morning or when you get home from work, and it will defrost quickly and be ready to use. Squeeze out any excess water to avoid thinking down your curry,
If you use fresh spinach, remove any tough stems and finely chop. You will need to give it 3-4 minutes extra cooking time to let it wilt down fully.
- Chicken: Use chicken thighs for the best taste and texture. The meat is simmered in the sauce for 20 minutes to infuse it with flavor. If you use chicken breast, it will end up chewy and dry.
- Broth: I use low sodium chicken broth for this recipe, but you can substitute it with vegetable broth.
- Spices: The spices in this recipe are all ground spices, making mixing up the spice blend easy. They are all easy to find in the grocery store.
The least common is Fenugreek powder (also known as methi powder). I find it in my grocery store, but you can leave that out of the curry if you can't find it. Or replace it with some crushed yellow mustard seeds.
The curry base.
To get a rich, almost creamy taste to the curry without adding any cream, Indian restaurants will create a thick curry base that can then be used to cook the chicken and spices in.
I recreate it here by frying off the onions until they are lightly golden and then pureeing them with some stock and a few spices. The resulting puree is rich and creamy and adds so much to the curry.
When it is added back into the pan, the puree cooks further, and the sugars in the onion caramelize and add depth to the curry. This is a quick way to add a slow cook taste to a quick cook dish.
Is Chicken Palak spicy?
As written the recipe is on the mild side. You can easily up the spice level by adding more cayenne pepper or some red pepper flakes.
Or chop up a fresh green chilli and let people add it to their curry at the table if you would like extra spice.
What to serve with Chicken Saag
Other currys you might enjoy
If you cook this chicken saag, don't forget to come back and comment or tag me on social media.
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
Chicken Saag (Chicken Palak) Recipe
For the base
- 2 onions - yellow/brown
- 2 tablespoons oil - vegetable/canola
- ½ cup broth - chicken/vegetable
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
For the spice mix
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1½ teaspoon ground fenugreek - see note 1
- 1½ teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon ground cardamon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper - see note 2
For the curry
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons oil - vegetable/canola
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste/tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 lb chicken thighs
- 1 cup frozen chopped spinach thawed (-see note 3)
Make the curry base
- Peel and roughly chop the onions
- In a large pan, heat the oil until shimmering.
2 tablespoons oil
- Add the onions and cook over medium heat until soft and golden in color. (About 10 minutes)
- Transfer the onions and oil to a blender, add the broth, ground cumin, ground coriander, and puree until smooth.
cooked onions and oil
½ cup broth/stock
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
To make the curry
- Combine the spice mix ingredients in a small bowl and set to one side.
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
1½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cardamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Peel and grate the ginger and garlic.
2 cloves garlic
- Heat the oil in a large pan (you can use the same pan you cooked the onions in, no need to wash it)
2 tablespoons oil
- Add the ginger and garlic and cook over low heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the combined spices, tomato paste, and water. Then stir to combine.
prepared spice mix
1 tablespoon tomato paste/puree
2 tablespoons water
- Add in the onion base and cook over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes until thick and darkened in color.
- While the base is cooking, chop the chicken into bitesize chunks.
1lb/450g chicken thighs
- Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes until just cooked.
- Add the defrosted spinach (no need to drain) and stir to combine with the sauce.
1 cup chopped frozen spianch (thawed)
- Serve immediately.
- If you can't find ground fenugreek, you can replace it with ½ teaspoon of mustard powder or yellow mustard seeds.
- The cayenne adds heat; as written, this is medium-mild curry; you can increase the cayenne to make it spicier.
- If you want to use fresh spinach, use ½lb, remove any tough stems and finely chop. You will need to give it 3-4 minutes extra cooking time to allow it to wilt down fully.