Chicken thighs cooked with fresh spinach, garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes and fragrant spices.
Spinach may work for Popeye the sailor man, but it doesn’t really work for our household. I love good ol simple spinach bhurji, which is stir-fried fresh spinach with tomatoes, onions and spices. But it doesn’t seem to appeal to the palate of my family, especially the kid. Getting healthy greens inside the tummies of kids is not an easy task, which many will agree with.
I have been watching Indian cooking shows on local Indian channels here. I was fortunate enough to catch onto famous Indian chef Ajay Chopra, whipping up some Northern Indian recipes on a particular show. And was lucky to see him cook his version of saag chickeN on the show. Of course, his was more elaborate with plenty of ghee and lots of whole spices. It looked darn good and delicious! It was his method of making the saag and incorporating certain tips and techniques, which truly seemed appealing to me. So I thought I would give it a try in my kitchen, a pleasant and exciting variation of cooking spinach.
I modified his recipe to suit our palate, in terms of using less amounts of ghee and lesser amount of spices. The result was a success and the dish loved by my family, including the kid. Honestly, delish! With that said, I will follow this recipe every time I buy spinach 😊 Non-meat lovers, don’t get disheartened, I’m sure this recipe will work perfectly with paneer, potatoes, even chanas or garbanzo beans.
Notes I picked up from the chef, which makes this dish extra special :
1. Do not cook spinach with tomatoes, otherwise the spinach turns brownish black. To retain the fresh green color in the dish, cook the spinach separately.
2. For a different texture, purée one bunch of spinach and finely chop the remaining bunch. This really worked well in the recipe.
3. Fennel seeds or saunf perks up the taste to a new level.
2 bunches of fresh spinach
Chicken thighs, skinless, with bone-in – 1lb. or 500 grams.
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. ginger, finely minced
1 tsp. ginger and garlic paste
1 tomato, finely chopped
A couple of slit green chillies
Fennel seeds – 3/4 tsp. + 1/2 tsp.
2 dried red chillies
Whole garam masala: A few black peppercorns, 2 cloves, 2 green cardamoms, a small cinnamon stick, a couple of dried bay leaves
1/2 tsp. each of red chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder.
A pinch of turmeric powder and a pinch of nutmeg
Salt, to taste
Kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves
Heat a tablespoon of ghee in a large wok or kadhai. Add the 3/4 tsp.fennel seeds and whole garam masala and a dried chili. Add the finely minced garlic and sauté till it turns light golden brown, don’t burn it. Add the chopped onions and sauté on low heat till it turns a light golden brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Add the ground spices or masalas and a little water, so the masala mix doesn’t burn.
Add salt to taste. Add the chicken pieces and stir-well with the masalas. Add the green chilies. Add the chopped tomatoes, half cup water and cover and cook on a low flame till chicken is tender and cooked.
In another pan, heat a little ghee. Add remaining 1/2 tsp.fennel seeds, a dried chilli, And the puréed spinach. Add salt to taste, it helps retain the fresh green color.
Stir well. Add the remaining chopped spinach and chopped ginger.
Sauté well for a few minutes, spinach cooks fast. Add this mixture to the chicken mixture. Add kasuri methi. Serve with rotis, paranthas and rice.