Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Chicken Saag

Last week I shared a long-awaited treasure, the recipes for Sanaa's famous bread service dipping sauces at Walt Disney World. The homemade naan bread and sauces were not the only items on the menu that day.

Believe it or not, this Chicken Saag recipe rivals the saag at my favorite local Indian restaurant! It was crazy easy to make, and so flavorful. It contains nearly a dozen spices and aromatics in the pureed spinach sauce (this is what the term "saag" refers to). The saag sauce cooks quite rapidly, as does the chicken, which is cut into bite-size pieces.

This is also a lot easier and quicker than some other Indian recipes I have made in the past, like this delicious but more time consuming pork vindaloo. It's also quite healthy! There is only a bit of oil used (you can likely reduce that a bit too if you'd like) and some thick yogurt stirred in at the end. The chicken I used is white meat, which is leaner than thighs.

I served this curry with plain basmati rice, and of course the homemade naan bread and dipping sauces. The recipe comfortably yields 4 servings, and is just as delicious reheated the following day. I took a portion to work for lunch and will admit it was probably the best lunch I've had at work in ages!

Chicken Saag
Serves 4

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 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

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.


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