Chicken Saag Recipe or Palak Chicken is a classic Indian curry of chicken cooked together with fresh spinach and spices. What a fabulous combination of flavours and nutrition it is!
Intensely delicious, keto friendly and gluten free recipe ready in less than an hour.
You must try this chicken saag
Chicken saag is absolutely finger licking classic chicken dish that is sure to elevate your spread to an imperial one.
A fantastic chicken curry cooked with blanched spinach and basic spices. The tender juicy chicken pieces soaking up all the flavors from spinach and spices, yum!
So, today I am sharing our family recipe of palak chicken which may be a little different than the one you might be aware of. Once you try it, you will definitely want to make it to your family's favourite list.
Oh, I love this recipe so much coz there's no chopping of onions at all, Lol!
This is so delicious and easy chicken saag recipe which you can make on stove top as well as in instant pot and even in slow cooker.
What makes this recipe so good?
Chicken : Cut in medium size pieces.
Spinach : I have used fresh spinach leaves here which I have blanched and then pureed it.
Few of my readers have asked me if they can use canned spinach puree? So, yes, if you are in hurry or short of fresh spinach, then go on ahead with canned spinach.
But, I would still say the same, fresh spinach puree taste way better and nutritious than canned ones.
Useful Tip : Usually, I keep stock of homemade spinach puree in my freezer. This makes my work much easier and cooking this spinach chicken curry or Palak Paneer or Chole Palak doesn't take much time at all.
For marination : we will need whisked yogurt, onion paste, ginger and garlic paste, green chilies, salt and pepper.
Spice powders : We will be using the very basic, turmeric, coriander and red chilli powder along with little garam masala powder and grated nutmeg.
The ingredient that is key to give lovely Indian restaurants like taste is the use of tomato puree. I would say please do not compromise on this ingredient.
Whole Spices : We need back peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds, cloves and green cardamom.
The other ingredients we need are oil, ghee, salt, lemon juice and chopped green coriander.
Step by step instructions 2 ways
Marination and preparation:
1- In a large bowl, combine chicken pieces and all the ingredients mentioned under marination.
2- Mix everything well, cover and refrigerate for an hour. Or at least for 30 minutes.
3- While the chicken marinates, clean wash and trim the spinach leaves. Boil enough of water in a pot and add soda, mix. Add the spinach leaves into boiling water.
4- Let the spinach blanch for 2 minutes.
5- Take the blanched spinach out and immediately put it into an ice cold water.
6- Add blanched spinach in a blender and blend it until you have smooth spinach sauce (purèe).
Making it in pot on stovetop
1- To begin with, heat ghee and oil in a large pot. Now, add bay leaf, cumin seeds, cloves, green cardamom, cinnamon, black peppercorn and fry until fragrant.
2- Add marinated chicken and sauté on high heat for 2 minutes, stirring in between.
3- Then, add red chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder, tomato puree and mix well.
4- Add ½ cup of water, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
5- Add pureed spinach, garam masala powder, crushed nutmeg and mix well. Adjust the consistency of the gravy as per requirement, cook on medium heat for another 2-3 minutes or until done.
6- Add lemon juice, chopped coriander leaves and mix. Cover and let the curry rest for 5-7 minutes.
7- Dish out, serve it with hot phulkas, parathas or pulao.
Making it in Instant Pot
So, start off with marinating the chicken and blanching the spinach as mentioned in the preparation and marination section.
1- Switch on the IP and press 'Sauté' button. Once it displays 'Hot' add oil and ghee together. Then, add whole spices and fry for 30 seconds.
2- Add marinated chicken and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
3- Add red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, tomato puree, salt and mix well. Cook for another 1 minute. Ensure to deglaze if anything is stuck at the bottom.
4- Add ¼ to ½ cup of water depending upon the gravy consistency you need. Close the IP lid and seal. Cancel 'sauté' button and pressure cook the chicken on 'high' for 4 minutes.
5- Once the IP beeps, do quick pressure release with pressure valve in venting position. Carefully open the pot.
6- Now, switch on the 'saute' mode. Add pureed spinach, garam masala powder, grated nutmeg and mix. Simmer on low for 2-3 minutes.
7- Finally, add lemon juice and chopped cilantro, mix. Switch off the IP, let the chicken rest for 5-7 minutes. Dish out and serve hot.
Best chicken cut to use
Honestly, you have freedom to use any cut of chicken to make this luscious murgh saag. Personally, I prefer to go either for drumsticks, chicken thigh or regular chicken on bone cuts.
I don't know why, but I do not like using boneless chicken into this dish. Chicken on bones, give nice juicy and intense flavor than the boneless cut.
The extra flavours and juiciness that imparts zing in this dish comes from chicken thighs or drumsticks.
But, as I said you have freedom to use any of your favourite cut, you can go on ahead with boneless cut or chicken breasts as well.
Marination : The chicken marination allows the maximum penetration of the flavours into it. Further, making chicken tender, juicy and helps to cook faster. Therefore, consider the chicken marination for at least 30 minutes, if you are short of time.
Spinach Blanching : Personally, I love to use blanched spinach for the recipes like the one. But, you are free to go ahead with blending the spinach directly without blanching it.
However, I would still recommend you to blanch the spinach and then proceed. Because, it retains the flavour, colour and nutritional value of the veggies.
Spice Heat : You are free to modify the amount chilies in the dish to suit to your taste.
Tomato Puree : Don't have store bought tomato puree with you? No worries! Then, simply blanch 1 large ripened red tomatoes, blend it to puree. Strain and use. You can also use 2 teaspoon of tomato paste mixed with 2 tablespoon of water.
If you wish to serve it with dinner rolls, ensure the rolls aren't the sweeter ones but the regular. Check for its sugar to be less than 2% as it works best with any Indian curries.
A bowl of hot steamed basmati rice topped with this murgh saag with some salad and yogurt raita on side is our personal favorite.
With whatever pairing you go for, the only thing you will have is Yumminessss!
Chicken saag makes delicious leftover lunches or dinners. In fact, this curry gets more flavorful the next day.
So, store the cooled curry in clean air tight box and refrigerate. It stays well upto 4 days. Re-heat it in microwave or on stovetop until warm through and serve.
The curry freezes very well, you can also freeze it as a meal prep. Once cooked, let the curry cool down completely.
Transfer it to clean airtight box and freeze upto 6 months. You can divide it in portions or store in bulk, do as what suits you.
Frequently asked questions
Saag (Punjabi term) = Leafy Greens.
Saag is basically the greens that goes into any food preparation either one of the green or in combinations. These are namely spinach, kale, mustard, fenugreek, dill, collard or turnips.
And, when any of these saag coalesce with vegetable or meat protein, the outcome is ultimate deliciousness!
Meat proteins like chicken, mutton, beef or fish is what most of the time goes perfect. You can choose any of these and pair it with saag of your choice.
Whereas, vegetable protein that pairs amazing with greens are paneer, tofu, kala chana or white chana (chickpeas), soya chunks and what not.
You yourself can try out various combination of saag with different proteins
I would definitely say the answer as yes!
This is a low carb recipe loaded with goodness of spinach saag and contains no cream at all.
With few swaps you can make it as healthy meal option. Opt for low fat yogurt, white meat and skip ghee. And still the dish will taste amazing, I guarantee you!
This palak chicken freezes very well. You can either freeze them in portion size or in bulk.
Transfer the cooled curry in clean airtight freezer safe box and freeze. It stays frozen for good 4 months.
Yes, this recipe does uses yogurt and ghee that falls under dairy category.
But, the good news is, you can definitely make it dairy free.
Skip the dairy yogurt and go ahead with non dairy yogurt of your choice. And cook this curry in vegetable oil only. Doesn't that sound so good?
One serving of this curry is 289 Kcal with 8 grams of carbs and 16 grams of protein.
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Chicken Saag Recipe
To Marinate Chicken
- 2.2 pounds Chicken on Bone cut in medium sized pieces
- 1 cup Yogurt whisked well
- 1 cup Onion Paste
- ½ tablespoons Garlic Paste
- ½ tablespoons Ginger Paste
- 1 teaspoon Green Chili Paste (or finely chopped)
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
To Blanch Spinach
- Water as needed
- ⅛ teaspoon Baking Soda
- 300 gms Fresh Spinach Leaves
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 4 Green Cardamom
- 4 Cloves
- 8-10 Black Peppercorn
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1.5 inch Cinnamon Stick
- 1 ½ teaspoon Red Chili Powder
- ¾ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 2 teaspoon Coriander Powder
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
- 2 tablespoons Tomato puree
- ¼ teaspoon Nutmeg grated
- 1.5 teaspoon Lemon Juice
- 3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 2 tablespoons Ghee or Butter (Optional)
Marination and Blanching
- In a large bowl, combine chicken pieces and all the ingredients mentioned under marination.
- Mix everything well, cover and refrigerate for an hour. Or at least for 30 minutes.
- Clean wash and trim the spinach leaves. Boil enough of water in a vessel and add soda, mix. Add the spinach leaves into boiling water.
- Allow the spinach to blanch in the water for 2 minutes.
- Take the blanched spinach out and immediately put them into an ice cold water.
- Add blanched spinach in a blender and blend it to a puree.
Making it on Stove Top
- Heat ghee and oil in a large pot. Now, add whole spices and fry until fragrant.
- Add marinated chicken and sauté on high heat for 2 minutes, stirring in between.
- Then, add red chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder, tomato puree and mix well.
- Add /12 cup of water, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
- Add pureed spinach, garam masala powder, crushed nutmeg and mix well. Check for salt and add more if needed. Cook on medium heat for another 2-3 minutes or until done.
- Add lemon juice, chopped coriander leaves and mix. Cover and let the curry rest for 5-7 minutes.
- Dish out and serve hot with phulkas, parathas or pulao.
Making it in Instant Pot
- So, start off with marinating the chicken and blanching the spinach as mentioned in the preparation and marination section.
- Switch on the IP and press 'Sauté' button. Once it displays 'Hot' add oil and ghee together. Then, add whole spices and fry for 30 seconds.
- Add marinated chicken and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, tomato puree, salt and mix well. Cook for another 1 minute. Ensure to deglaze if anything is stuck at the bottom.
- Add ¼ to ½ cup of water depending upon the gravy consistency you need. Close the IP lid and seal. Cancel 'sauté' button and pressure cook the chicken on 'high' for 4 minutes.
- Once the IP beeps, do quick pressure release with pressure valve in venting position. Carefully open the pot.
- Now, switch on the 'saute' mode. Add pureed spinach, garam masala powder, grated nutmeg and mix. Simmer on low for 2-3 minutes. Check for salt and season, if needed.
- Finally, add lemon juice and chopped cilantro, mix. Switch off the IP, let the chicken rest for 5-7 minutes. Dish out and serve hot with your favorite bread or rice.