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.
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, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly, and lowering heat to medium-low if it starts to brown too quickly.
Over medium heat, add the salt (SEE NOTES), coriander, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, and chili powder, and stir on medium-low heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so. Dissolve the tomato paste in the water by stirring vigorously together in a measuring cup or bowl. Then stir into the spices in the pan, creating a thick spiced sauce, about 1 minute.
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, about 3 to 5 minutes (can depend on the size of your spinach leaves). Remove the lid and finish stirring the spinach until it is completely wilted but still bright green, another minute.
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 1 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, about 5 to 7 minutes. 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 2 to 3 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.
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 use a combination of dark leafy greens in this recipe. Try half spinach and half kale, mustard greens, or Swiss chard as another option. Those other greens are more bitter and will change the general flavor of this curry. Fenugreek leaves are also quite traditional to include. The combination of greens is simply a matter of personal preference.
If using frozen spinach instead of fresh use about 3 ⅓ ounces of the frozen spinach (or about ⅓ of the 10-ounce package) to get the equivalent of 8 ounces fresh spinach. Thaw before using, but no need to squeeze out the excess liquid (it will help keep your sauce the right consistency). You can skip the step of wilting the spinach in the spice sauce, and just transfer the spice sauce and thawed frozen spinach to the blender together and proceed as directed. I've used as much as 5 ounces of frozen spinach in this recipe before and it's delicious too, just a bit more spinachy than usual!
This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US), preferably Diamond Crystal brand which has larger flakes (this is the brand used in many restaurants, and the brand I use to test all my recipes). If you are using table salt or a fine (less coarse) kosher salt (such as Morton), scale down the salt to ¾ teaspoon to start, and add more later if needed.