Chicken Saag (Indian Chicken and Spinach Curry)

July 20, 2020
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This quick and easy Chicken Saag (Palak Chicken) is the fastest curry you’ll ever make from scratch. It’s healthy and delicious with a flavor bomb of spices. You’ll never need to order Indian takeout again with this recipe in your arsenal.

Indian chicken saag spinach curry in a white bowl with a spoon lifting some out

(This recipe was originally published in March 2019, but was updated with new photos and content in 2020).

Since first making this chicken saag recipe, I have made it countless times. I always amaze myself with how easy it is to make, and how it satisfies my craving for Indian food. Although my favorite Indian curries when I go out to eat are chicken tikka masala and chicken korma, I have since fallen head over heels for chicken saag.

This dish can be called chicken saag or palak chicken. “Saag” is more of a broad term for green leafy vegetable curries, and “palak” is specific to curries made with spinach. Both apply in this case, though I’ve always called it the former so that’s what I’ll stick with.

If you’ve never eaten or even seen Indian chicken saag curry, you may be a little surprised by it’s appearance. It’s a cooked spinach curry, so the color and texture is that of a muted green puree. Take my word for it though, the aroma and flavors of this curry are out of this world! If you like Indian food, definitely give this recipe a try. The taste will speak for itself.

Believe it or not, this recipe rivals the saag at my favorite local Indian restaurant! I may even say I prefer my own heavily spiced concoction to theirs. It contains nearly a dozen spices and aromatics in the pureed spinach sauce.

closeup of chicken saag in a small white bowl

How to make it

The first step in making this chicken saag curry is to make the spinach sauce. Heat a little bit of oil in a non-stick skillet, and add chopped onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until softened and aromatic.

Add your mixture of spices (salt, ground coriander, garam masala, ground turmeric, ground cumin, ground cardamom, Indian chili powder) followed by tomato paste dissolved in water. Mix until combined, and then stir in the spinach leaves. I prefer using baby spinach, as the leaves are already quite tender, and I don’t have to pick through it.

Cover the pan to allow the spinach to wilt. Stir the mixture until all the spinach is wilted, but still vibrant green. Remove from the heat and puree the mixture in your blender or food processor. The sauce is ready!

Next you’ll cook cubes of chicken in a bit of oil until cooked through. Pour the spinach sauce over the chicken, and continue to cook so the flavors can meld together. Stir in a big spoonful of plain yogurt, and this healthy curry is ready to serve!

Cooking chicken saag in a frying pan, with a wooden spoon stirring the mixture

Make ahead options

Making this recipe on a weeknight is fast and easy. You can prep your chicken in advance but cubing it up, and refrigerating it until it’s time to cook. You can also measure out all your spices, mix them together, and set them aside. The aromatics are also easy enough to chop, measure, and prep in advance. Then at the last minute, just get cooking.

The saag sauce cooks quite rapidly, as does the chicken, which is cut into bite-size pieces. Your authentic, homemade Indian meal will be ready before you know it!

Technically, you can even cook the spinach sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it, and then finish the dish by cooking the chicken and adding the sauce to heat it through.

Indian chicken saag spinach curry in a white bowl

Other recipes you may like

This curry is quite healthy compared to many other curry dishes. The amount of oil is minimal, but can be reduced further if you prefer. You may also use reduced fat or fat free plain yogurt to save a few additional calories. Although you can make this chicken saag recipe with chicken thighs, I prefer white meat which is also leaner than the alternative.

Indian chicken saag spinach curry in a white bowl with a spoon lifting some out

This authentic chicken saag curry is just as delicious reheated the following day. I’ve taken a portion to work for lunch and will admit it was probably the best lunch I’ve had at work in ages! If anything the flavor gets even better over time, and it’s very easy to reheat in a microwave if that’s all you have access to.

I typically serve this simple curry with plain basmati rice or jeera rice, basmati rice made with cumin seeds. The recipe comfortably yields 4 servings, although if you are super hungry you can divide it into 2 or 3 larger portions. You can also serve it with another dish, such as Chana Dal to expand the menu and yield more overall servings.

3 small white bowls filled with yellow chana dal, rice, and chicken saag

What is your favorite Indian dish to eat? Have you ever tried making it yourself at home? I would love to hear more about your experiences eating and cooking Indian food. Leave me a comment and a rating for this recipe if you’ve tried it. Thanks!

Indian chicken saag spinach curry in a white bowl with a spoon lifting some out

Chicken Saag

Victoria
This quick and easy Chicken Saag is the fastest curry you'll ever make from scratch. It's healthy and delicious with a flavor bomb of spices. You'll never need to order Indian takeout again with this recipe in your arsenal.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 438 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon Indian chili powder or cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 ounces baby spinach or trimmed regular spinach, washed and dried
  • 1 pound chicken breast or tenders cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt preferably thick Greek-style yogurt

Instructions
 

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (if you plan to double the recipe, definitely use a pot instead of a skillet so you have room for all the spinach!). Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and saute until softened, stirring regularly, and lowering heat to medium-low if it starts to brown too quickly.
  • Over medium heat, add the salt, coriander, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, and chili powder, and stir on medium-low heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so. Add the tomato paste and water, and stir gently to dissolve the tomato paste and all the spices into the water, creating a thick spiced sauce.
  • Add the spinach and gently stir to combine, as the skillet will be very full. Cover and raise the heat to medium-high, allowing the spinach to start to wilt. Occasionally remove the lid, stir, and then cover again until most the spinach has begun to wilt. Remove the lid and finish stirring the spinach until it is completely wilted but still bright green.
  • Transfer spinach mixture to a blender and puree until relatively smooth but still a bit chunky (you don’t want it to be super smooth, a bit of texture is good). Taste and adjust salt and spice if necessary.
  • Meanwhile, wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel, return it to medium-high heat, and add another tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the cubed chicken pieces, sprinkle salt over the top to season, and cook until almost completely cooked through. Pour the spinach mixture back over the chicken, using a rubber spatula to get every last bit out of the blender, and cook for another few minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the chicken to finish cooking. Stir in the yogurt, and serve immediately with basmati rice and/or naan.

Notes & Nutrition

  • This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.
Servings 4.0 * calories 438 * Total Fat 30 g * Saturated Fat 6 g * Monounsaturated Fat 2 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 5 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 53 mg * Sodium 1504 mg * Potassium 342 mg * Total Carbohydrate 26 g * Dietary Fiber 3 g * Sugars 4 g * Protein 18 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*

9 Comments

  • Reply
    Camille
    January 23, 2020 at 10:29 am

    5 stars
    Yum! This looks so good!

    • Reply
      Victoria
      January 23, 2020 at 10:39 am

      Camille, it is SO EASY to make. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal. We should plan to make it together for one of our upcoming dinners!

    • Reply
      DeborahD
      August 23, 2020 at 9:38 am

      5 stars
      Excellent flavor, easy preparation and raves from the hungry diners all this adds up to 5 stars.

      • Reply
        Victoria
        August 23, 2020 at 9:50 am

        Thanks, Deborah! I’m so happy to hear everyone LOVED this easy recipe. It’s my favorite curry to make at home exactly for the reasons you stated!

  • Reply
    Mary Kabakian
    January 23, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    5 stars
    This is one of the best Indian recipes. I love how easy it is to make even on a weeknight.

  • Reply
    Lucine
    February 26, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    5 stars
    A perfect dish for Indian food lovers. Chicken is so juicy and tender, and the spinach puree is true magic. My family absolutely loved it. It definitely became an all-time favorite.

  • Reply
    Laura Martin
    April 9, 2020 at 9:24 pm

    5 stars
    One of my favorite Indian dishes this recipe did not let me down. Thank you delicious

    • Reply
      Victoria
      April 9, 2020 at 9:26 pm

      You’re welcome! So glad you enjoyed it. I just made it again this week too! Always a favorite 🙂

  • Reply
    A.J.
    July 22, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    5 stars
    This was delicious!! My entire family enjoyed the sauce, and it was super easy and healthy. Next time, we’ll try it with tofu!

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